Saturday, November 28, 2009

Search Term Season!

Yup, it's that time of the year again! Here are searches people have used to reach my website over the last couple of months:

was elizabeth woodville nice?

Certainly. That was:

edward iv s reason to marry elizabeth woodville

was elizabeth woodville beautiful?

Probably, but she was mainly nice.

how to hate elizabeth woodville

Easy to do if someone is beautiful and nice. Just jealousy, of course.

how played the duke off buckinghams sister in the tudors

Most likely, without many clothes on

formula for historical fiction novel

Find some history. Write about it. See? I've saved you the expense of all of those writing classes.

how did edward deal with his enimies

Threw dictionaries at them until they begged for mercy.

dr. susan higginbotham

That has such a nice ring to it.

was the woodville family social greedy

Sadly, they might have been. According to Mancini, they were always the first at the hors d'oeuvres at any party.

why did duke of buckingham not kill the princes

Because Katherine kept him busy doing chores around Brecon Castle.

the first name of duchess the man

That's Mr. Duchess to you, sonny.

how to become a king maker wife

First, find a king and ask who made him. Then get a good makeover, get some Botox treatments if necessary, and make sure you get invited to every party at which the kingmaker will be present. Then just let him talk about himself and ask a few intelligent questions from time to time, and wedding bells will soon be ringing.

what did piers gaveston look like?

Hot, I tell you. Hot.

glass drink despenser with stand

You'll need that drink after you've finished thinking of Piers Gaveston.

read book of edward ii

I couldn't agree more. Read one now (check the sidebar for a suggestion).

wars of the roses university

I would so love to attend this.

elizabeth woodville on horse back portrait

This is what you can paint if you're an art major at the Wars of the Roses University.

does gaveston use his relationship with edward to gain power and status?

No. Just lots of bling-bling.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why no one in my family has ever suggested that we have Thanksgiving dinner at our house:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Letters from Oxford, and Some Google Books Lurve

If there's one thing that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, it's Google Books. I can't tell you how many trips to the library it's saved me, or how many books I've found on Google Books that aren't available in the library.

Anyway, last night I was looking up a letter in what I thought was surely going to be a hard book to track down (Epistolae academicae Oxon. by the Oxford Historical Society), and sure enough, I found the book straightaway on Google Books. While looking for the letter in question, I found this 1478 letter mentioning Lionel Woodville's honorary degree at Oxford (I'm copying the Latin letter as well as the English abstract so people unfamiliar with this blog can be vastly impressed):

To the Dean of Exeter.

It has ever been the wisdom of our predecessors to show peculiar respect for learning in persons of high social rank : it is due both to their position and their merit, whereof the one adds lustre to the University and the other advances its work. You have been raised to a position to which your family could never have aspired, and we ought not to be behind hand in conferring upon y ou a corresponding degree of academical advancement. In communicating to you the unanimous vote of Convocation by which the degrees are conferred, we hope you will not consider them an unworthy tribute, and that we may reckon upon your help and protection.

1478. Prestanti ac nobili viro, domino Leonello Widewill, Exoniensis ecclesie decano colendissimo, Cancellarius Universitatis Oxoniensis universusque regentium in eadem cetus salutem plurimam dicunt. Sapienter instituisse majores nostri nobis videntur, amplissime domine, viros ingenuos litteris operam daturos summa semper apud nos veneratione colendos esse. Hoc enim et nobilitatis conditio et meritorum magnitudo postulabat. Tanta namque fuit multorum nobilitas, tanta fuerunt merita ut illa in gloriam ista in utilitatem Universitatis nostre redundarent. Nos igitur, quoniam certo scimus ea te nobilitate pollere, ad quam nulli tuorum majorum propemodum aspirare poterant, par est ut te etiam, in disciplinarum studiis aliquamdiu Oxoniis obversatum, non minori tandem observantia prosequamur. lis enim honorum gradibus tuam nobilitatem ornandam duximus, quibus benemeritos viros in hoc nostro litterarum ocio versalos donare solemus. Placuit sane summo nostrum omnium consensu fieri, ut primum ad extraordinariam decretalium lecturam admitti, tum in decretis licentiari possis; ea tamen lege ut ad incipiendum nullo tempore cogi prestantiam tuam oporteat. Hoc unictim est, clarissime domine, parentis nostre donum; revera tantum ut nec majus ab illa aut expeti debeat aut rependi possit; donum certe tua, ut confidimus, amplitudine non indignum; quod si gratie nomen merito sortiri debebit, necesse profecto erit ut et te nobis et nos tibi gratiores efficiat. Magna igitur est, colendissime vir, in tuenda republica nostra tue probitatis expectatio, quam, quia nonnullis antehac meritis concitasti, facile speramus te longe singularissimum Universitatis nostre patronum fore.


Don't you love the slightly snarky tone of "you have been raised to a position to which your family could never have aspired"? Oxford elected Lionel its chancellor later in 1478 or in 1479, and he became Bishop of Salisbury in 1482. (One historical novel set during the Wars of the Roses--the same one that has the dead William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, rising from the grave to have a go at fathering Edward of Lancaster--has Lionel becoming bishop around 1465, when he was probably no more than fifteen and possibly as young as ten.)

Speaking of Suffolk, the letter I was looking for was this one to his wife, Alice de la Pole, dated May 6, 1450:

To the Duchess of Suffolk.

To the rigth and myghti princes, the duchesse of Suffolke, oure ryght especiall benefactrice and singuler lady.

Ryght high and myghty princes, We youre humble oratours recommaunde us unto youre good ladyshippe an noble grace wyth the gostely suffrages of oure prayers, inioyng gretly als wel of youre goude spede late in youre matyrs at London, as of youre commyng home and abydyng in this contre : whiche treuly beth un to us grete glore and comfort. And for as much that hit hath plesed youre noble ladishippe but late ago to shew unto us grete liberalite and tendyrnes in sondre wyse, therfore we besech devotely almygthi god to thank yow ; and we for oure deute, als ferforth as is possible unto us, thanke yowr heynesse al so w* alle the internes of oure hertes ; Recommending us w* lowly spiryts into the gracyous continuaunce of youre rygth heyh and benigne ladishippe ; as we shall dayly offre to god oure prayers and devocions for youre noble estate, good helth, welthe and prosperite : whiche oure lord graunte yow abundantly at the meke instance of oure prayers. Writ at Oxford in oure sembly hous the 6 day of may


The interesting thing about this letter, aside from its obsequiousness that would do Jane Austen's Mr. Collins proud, is its singularly bad timing: It was sent on May 6, and the duchess's husband William de la Pole, on his way into exile, had been murdered at sea on May 2. It seems that word of the murder hadn't reached Oxford as of May 6, or surely the writers would have mentioned prayers for the duke's soul.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dumb-Cluck Woodville Statement O' the Day

In a discussion group, I was alerted to the current Wikipedia entry on Jacquetta Woodville ("Wydeville" for you purists here). Among other misinformation, it contains this particular gem:

"She arranged for her 20-year-old son, John Woodville, to marry the widowed and very rich dowager Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine Neville. The bride was at least forty years older than the groom at the time of the wedding. The marriage caused a furore and earned the Woodvilles considerable unpopularity. Catherine Neville's son, John de Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, especially, turned against the Queen and her family and vowed vengeance against them and the Yorkists for the stain on his family honour."

Our Wikipedia writer is correct about the age gap, though whether Jacquetta herself arranged the marriage is open to debate. But John de Mowbray, third Duke of Norfolk, vowing vengeance? Minor hitch: The wedding between John and his elderly bride took place in 1465, and the third duke died in 1461.

We also are informed that Richard III ordered Parliament in 1483 to attaint Elizabeth Woodville for witchcraft, though Richard III didn't hold a Parliament in 1483 and Elizabeth was never attainted, for witchcraft or for anything else. Jacquetta also gains two nonexistent children courtesy of Wikipedia: Agnes and Thomas. Since "Thomas Woodville" is referred to as marrying Anne Holland, I presume that he is being confused with Thomas Grey, Jacquetta's grandson, but where on earth Agnes came from I don't know, though she seems to pop up on other genealogical sites from time to time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Unlucky De La Pole Family

Medieval history is full of singularly unlucky families--the Despensers, whose lords each died violently, young, or both, being one of the primary examples. The de la Pole family is another ill-fated clan.

It probably didn't look at all bad for the de la Poles initially. William, who died in June 1366, had been a financier to the crown as well as a successful wool merchant. Though William's activities proved controversial, and he was ultimately forced to forgive the outstanding royal debts owed him, he nonetheless died wealthy and in his bed.

William's eldest son, Michael, devoted himself to a military career instead of to the wool business. He served under both the Black Prince and John of Gaunt, and won the favor of the Black Prince's son Richard II, who ultimately made him the Earl of Suffolk in 1385, when Michael was 55. Unfortunately, being a favorite of Richard II was a risky business, and he and other royal advisers were accused of treason. Michael fled the country, eventually reaching Paris, and was convicted of treason in his absence in 1388. He died in Paris, still in exile, in 1389, leaving behind six children, including his heir, another Michael.

The younger Michael was restored to the earldom of Suffolk in 1398. He served the crown militarily but largely stayed far away from national politics. In 1415, he accompanied Henry V on his campaign in France, where he fell victim to the dysentery that plagued the soldiers. He died on September 17, 1415, during the siege of Harfleur. The earldom passed to his eldest son, yet another Michael, who enjoyed his title for only a few weeks. He died at Agincourt on October 25, 1415. He and the Duke of York had been the only English noblemen who fell there. Thus, Michael's younger brother William became the fourth Earl of Suffolk, just nine days after his nineteenth birthday.

William had been wounded at Harfleur and had been sent home to recuperate; thus, he missed Agincourt. He returned to military service in France in 1417, however, and remained abroad almost continuously. On June 12, 1429, at Jargeau, he met disaster in the person of Joan of Arc, who defeated his forces. William's younger brother Alexander was killed that day, and another brother, John, was taken captive and died of his wounds shortly thereafter. William himself was captured. He remained in captivity until 1430, when he was released on a promise to repay his ransom, which he later claimed was 20,000 pounds. He was required to leave his only surviving brother, Thomas, as a hostage in his place. Thomas himself died in captivity.

In 1430, William returned to England, where he gradually became a favorite of the maturing Henry VI, with disastrous results. William was sent in 1444 to negotiate Henry's marriage to the 14-year-old Margaret of Anjou; following William's return to England, a grateful Henry VI made him Marquess of Suffolk. Four years later, in June 1448, William was made Duke of Suffolk. This was singularly bad timing on Henry VI's part, for in 1445 Henry had secretly promised to cede Maine to the French. The promise, which proved deeply unpopular, had at last been carried out in March 1448.

Suffolk had had the unenviable task of facilitating the cessation of Maine. Apparently in an attempt to head off further losses, he came up with a scheme to force Brittany into an alliance with England by seizing the wealthy Breton town of Fougères. This scheme, which looks absurd to modern eyes, must have made sense at the time, for Parliament in 1449 was all approval when word of the successful seizure of the town arrived. Unfortunately, the scheme backfired miserably by causing Brittany to turn to France and by giving France the opportunity to break its truce with England. Town by town, Normandy fell back into French hands.

With Maine ceded and Normandy all but lost, blame had to be placed somewhere, and as Henry VI's chief minister, Suffolk was the natural scapegoat. In early 1450, the Commons accused Suffolk of treason; among the charges was that he had secretly promised to hand over Maine (in fact, the secret promise was made by Henry, and other lords reluctantly acquiesced) and that he had plotted to depose Henry VI and raise his own son to the throne by dint of the son's marriage to little Margaret Beaufort.

Suffolk submitted himself to judgment by Henry VI himself, who held him "neither declared nor charged" on the treason charges. With regard to a series of lesser charges, mostly relating to finances, Henry VI ordered that Suffolk absent himself from England for five years.

The sentence of banishment was undoubtedly meant by Henry VI to save Suffolk from a worse fate, but it failed miserably. While heading into exile, Suffolk was intercepted by a vessel named Nicholas of the Tower, forced on board, and subjected to a mock trial by its crew. Not surprisingly, he was found guilty. Having been allowed to spend time with his confessor, he was taken into a smaller boat on May 2, 1450, and beheaded with six strokes of a rusty sword. His head and body were dumped on the Dover shore. Thus, William, his four brothers, and his father had each fallen in some way that was connected with the war in France.

William de la Pole had only one legitimate child: his son, John, who was just seven when his father was murdered. He succeeded to his father's dukedom. His child marriage to little Margaret Beaufort having been annulled (leaving Margaret free to remarry and give birth to the future Henry Tudor), Duke John, as we will call him, married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of the Duke of York. Though this made him the brother-in-law of the future King Edward IV, he never played a leading role in the Yorkist government despite his loyalty to the new king. He seems to neither have helped nor hindered Richard III's ascent to the throne. His transition to Henry VII's reign was equally smooth; he was at Henry's first Parliament.

Duke John's sons were another story. His eldest son, another John, the Earl of Lincoln, might have been intended by Richard III, whose only legitimate son died in 1484, to succeed him on the throne were Richard to die without legitimate heirs. Lincoln was apparently at the Battle of Bosworth, but he was not punished by Henry VII, whose coronation he attended. In 1487, however, he became embroiled in the Lambert Simnel conspiracy and led troops against Henry VII at Stoke, where he was killed on June 16, 1487. Lincoln, who was married but childless, was posthumously attainted, but his father was exempted. Duke John continued to serve on commissions for Henry VII until his death in 1492. His heir was his next surviving son, Edmund.

Henry VII's generosity toward Duke John did not extend to Edmund. The estates that had been settled by Duke John on Lincoln were forfeited to the crown upon the duke's death, and Edmund ultimately had to pay for the privilege of entering some of them. His income was insufficient to support a dukedom, but he was allowed to bear the title of Earl of Suffolk. Henry VII otherwise treated him well; he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1496 and served Henry militarily in 1497. Nonetheless, Edmund left England without royal license in 1501 and began plotting, along with his younger brother Richard, to seize the crown from Henry VII. By 1506, however, he was fed up with life on the run and was allowed to return to England, albeit as a prisoner in the Tower.

Unfortunately for Edmund, his younger brother, Richard, remained abroad and plotting. Accordingly, a nervous Henry VIII had Edmund executed in 1513. Richard, now calling himself the Duke of Suffolk and also known as "the White Rose," continued to make trouble for Henry abroad, where he served as a soldier. On February 25, 1525, he was killed at Pavia while fighting for François I against Charles V.

Two of the de la Pole brothers died of natural causes: Edward had died in 1485, having become Archdeacon of Richmond, and Humphrey, rector of Hingham in Norfolk, died in 1513. The remaining brother, William, was arguably the most unfortunate of Duke John's offspring. Sent to the Tower in 1502 on the ground that he was plotting with his brothers Edmund and Richard, he remained there for 37 years, dying as a prisoner some time before November 1539. With him, the male line of the de la Pole family died out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yes, It's My Favorite Time of Year Again

It's November, and that means county public library sale time! As I have been for the past couple of years, I volunteered to help and as a perk got first pick of the books I was unloading. I had a nice haul:

Charles II by Ronald Hutton
Isabel of Burgundy by Aline Taylor
Eleanor of Aquitaine by Desmond Seward
Food in History by Reay Tannahill
Sex in History by Reay Tannahill (they weren't together, I just got lucky)
King James by Antonia Fraser
Henry the Eighth by Francis Hackett
Elizabeth I by Paul Johnson
The Goldsmith's Wife by Jean Plaidy (I had this one, but my copy was too fragile for reading)
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory (hey, it was $2)
Louis XIV by Ian Dunlop
Monarchy by David Starkey
Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (I can take Melusine for $2, and I did like parts of it)
The Days of Duchess Anne: Life in the Household of the Duchess of Hamilton by Rosalind Marshall (I have no idea who this is, but it might come in handy one day)
Abe by Richard Slotkin
The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Retha Warnicke (I was really excited to find this one, and let out a whoop. Well actually, being an introvert, I said, "Isn't that nice," in an undertone).
Louis and Antoinette by Vincent Cronin
Life on a Medieval Barony by William Stearns Davis
The Spider King by Lawrence Schoonover (I think I had this one already, but I couldn't find it the other day)
England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams (I rescued this one from the romance section, where it was languishing next to books with bare-chested Scotsmen on the cover)
The Queen's Husband by Jean Plaidy
Queen in Waiting by Jean Plaidy (I have this one, it turns out, but I got so excited about finding old Jean Plaidy paperbacks that I decided to take a chance and get it anyway)
A Coffin for King Charles by C. V. Wedgwood
The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford
Henry VIII: Images of a Tudor King by Christopher Lloyd and Simon Thurley
Elizabeth: Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin
Anne Boleyn by Norah Lofts (as usual, the Tudors were well represented at this sale)
Medieval Warfare Source Book by David Nicholle (Vol. 1. No, I didn't see volume II)
Harold II: The Doomed Saxon King by Peter Rex
The Plantagenet Prelude by Jean Plaidy (another duplicate--I really need to bring a list)

Goofiest question a customer asked me: "Are there any good books here?" My answer, "What do you like to read?" Customer: "I don't know."

Book that will probably get a title change if it's ever reprinted: Gay Monarch: The Life and Pleasures of Edward VII.

Number of copies of The Autobiography of Henry VIII in the Biography section: 1 (usually I pull three or four out of there).

Most underloved area of the book sale: Westerns

Times I appeared on TV tonight, according to my daughter, when the local news channel did a broadcast about the sale: 1. My daughter says that I have my back to the camera and am rubbing one foot with the other. My feet were aching by then.

Anyway, the sale was held in a former grocery store. As you can see, the romance paperbacks fit quite nicely in the frozen food area:

I probably shouldn't go back, but I probably will give into temptation (especially since many books were still in their boxes when I left today because of lack of shelf space).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Edward V and the Woodvilles Should Have Had

Richard III and the Fates of Protectors

First, if you happen to follow me on Twitter, please don't open any direct messages purporting to be from me. They were sent by a hacker, not by me. I very seldom send direct messages on Twitter, and I never send messages inviting people to take IQ tests and so forth.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

When Richard III's admirers touch upon the subject of why he chose to take the crown (leaving aside the question of whether Edward V was legitimate), they invariably offer up this: Richard was protector. Protectors inevitably came to bad ends. Once Edward V came out of his minority, he was bound to murder Richard, because this was what happened to protectors and because Edward V would have been no more than a Frankenstein's monster controlled by the Evil Woodvilles, who were known to harbor murderous intentions against Richard. Thus, Richard's defenders conclude, Richard had to take the crown in order to save his own life.

Well, there are a couple of problems with this scenario, which hardly ever seem to be acknowledged. First, for people who supposedly were bound and determined to murder Richard in order to prevent him from becoming protector, the Woodvilles were singularly inept at doing it. Following Edward IV's death, Anthony Woodville, instead of rushing up to London with his charge Edward V and sending out assassins to murder Richard as he made his own way to London, dawdled at Ludlow and even made time to attend a St. George's Day ceremony. Once his journey to London was underway, Anthony, accompanied by only a small escort, backtracked from Stony Stratford to meet Richard at Northampton, stayed overnight, and was taken prisoner the next morning. That same morning, Richard traveled to Stony Stratford to confront Anthony's supposedly murderous entourage, waiting at Stony Stratford with Edward V. There, the future Richard III effortlessly arrested Richard Grey and Thomas Vaughan, after which Anthony's men dispersed without a fight. Clearly, Anthony, Richard Grey, and Thomas Vaughan were mighty ineffective at protecting their own selves against arrest, much less at killing Richard. Perhaps they should have given their copy of Murdering Dukes for Dummies a more careful reading.

Aside from this alleged plot, in support of which Richard never bothered to offer any evidence other than to display cartloads of weapons supposedly belonging to the Woodvilles, there's no evidence that the Woodvilles ever intended to kill Richard as protector, or anyone else. It seems a trifle speculative, then, to say that the inevitable result of a protectorship by Richard would have been death for Richard at the hands of Edward V and his maternal relatives when Edward V came of age.

The other part of the argument that Richard took the crown in self-defense centers on the notion that protectors inevitably met bad ends at the hands of their erstwhile charges, with the usual examples given being Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (for Richard II), and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (for Henry VI). There are problems, though, in drawing parallels between the careers of these two men and Richard's potential career as protector of Edward V. First, though one recent apologist for Richard III, Annette Carson in The Maligned King, describes Thomas of Woodstock as having been Richard II's protector (p. 32), this isn't a position Thomas ever held; to the contrary, he was omitted from Richard II's council when the boy became king. It was not until 1387, when Richard II was nearly twenty-one and had in effect already been ruling on his own, that Thomas and the other Lords Appellant began the process of purging Richard II's household of their enemies and forcing themselves into a position of control over the king. While Richard II did indeed eventually get a chance to revenge himself upon Thomas in 1397, it is stretching things, to say the least, to characterize this as vengeance taken for actions done by Thomas while Richard II was a child king, unless one characterizes a man's early twenties as his childhood.

Unlike Thomas in regard to Richard II, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, actually did serve as protector to the child Henry VI. But Humphrey's arrest in 1447, when Henry was twenty-five, was most likely a preemptive strike by William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to ensure that Humphrey did not interfere in the fraught peace negotiations with France. (Though the unfortunate Humphrey is often said to have been murdered following his arrest, it's far more likely, by the way, that he died of natural causes; tellingly, murdering Humphrey was not among the many charges that were brought against Suffolk in Parliament in 1450). Humphrey's arrest (ostensibly for plotting against Henry) might well have been on trumped-up charges, but it was most certainly not connected with anything Humphrey had done or hadn't done as protector during Henry VI's minority.

So, in sum, evidence that the Woodvilles were murderously disposed toward Richard as protector is sadly lacking, and the deaths of Thomas of Woodstock and Duke Humphrey cannot be attributed to actions they took with respect to being protectors of a child king, but to situations that arose when the monarchs in question were adults. Perhaps, then, it's Time to Retire the protector-as-automatic-death-sentence justification for Richard III's actions. What about it, folks?

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Night at the Opera with Margaret of Anjou

I promise to do a more substantive post soon, but while surfing this weekend, I came across an opera of which I hadn't heard before, Margherita d'Anjou by Giacomo Meyerbeer, with a libretto by Felice Romani. (Doesn't using the word "libretto" make this blog seem ever-so-classy?) This is known as an opera semiseria, or a semi-serious opera. (Feel the high culture simply oozing from this blog today.)

As I understand the storyline, the opera, which premiered at La Scala in 1820, takes place in Scotland around 1462, when Margherita, widowed from Henry VI, is fighting to regain her throne, from which she has been removed by one Riccardo, our very own beloved Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III. Margherita has other things on mind besides Riccardo, however; she's having an affair with the Duke of Lavarenne, whose wife, Isaura, is understandably unhappy about this. Isaura disguises herself as a doctor's page in order to win back her husband, and Margherita in turn disguises herself as a peasant in order to avoid detection by Riccardo. Eventually, the duke and his wife are reconciled, Riccardo is thwarted, and Belmonte, Margherita's general who had defected to Riccardo, returns to her service. (I should point out before some irate Ricardian does that the real-life Richard was ten years old in 1462 and thus unlikely to be chasing Margaret of Anjou around Scotland at the time.)

The opera was revived in London in 2002; some reviews can be found here. It was also recorded; a review of the recording is here. Some more information about the opera (from which the summary above was largely drawn) is here. Incidentally, Richard III is also the subject of an opera by Giorgio Battistelli, based on Shakespeare's play. The opera had its world premiere in 2005 at Antwerp. I know that a couple of opera buffs read this blog; has anyone seen/heard either of the operas in question?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Guest Post, and Some Nifty Books

Having finished reading my page proofs, I'm returning to blogdom to let you know that I have a guest post up on Holly Tucker's excellent Wonders and Marvels site. It's about the wooden town Edward III built to house his troops during the long siege of Calais. Stop by--there's plenty on that site to look at!

Speaking of Calais, I picked up a nice haul of new books at the library the other day, including Susan Rose's Calais: An English Town in France, 1347-1558, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales: Life, Death and Commemoration, edited by Steven Gunn and Linda Monckton, Catherine Parr by Susan James, and The Calais Garrison: War and Military Service in England, 1436-1558 by David Grummit. (Three of them were so new that the poor desk clerk had to paste a due-date slip inside--it's always nice reading a virgin library book.) I tend to dip into nonfiction and read the sections that interest me more than reading cover to cover, especially when I'm doing research, so I can't do a review as such, but I can say that all are well dipping-in-able.

One book I probably will be reading front to back is Seymour Phillips' upcoming Edward II (though the man could have had the decency to publish it when I was researching The Traitor's Wife instead of waiting). And my husband has been advised in no uncertain terms that I want Christopher Wilkins' biography of Edward Woodville for my birthday. It has its "look inside" feature activated at Amazon UK, so take a peek-I certainly have been!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Winner!

Congratulations to Julianne Douglas, who will be receiving a copy of The Traitor's Wife! Hope you enjoy it, Julianne!

While I'm here, I'd like to remember Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, the co-narrator and hero (antihero if you will) of my forthcoming novel, The Stolen Crown. Henry was executed at Salisbury on November 2, 1483, for his role in the rebellion against Richard III that bears his name. Henry's own motives for rebelling against the man he helped to bring to power will probably never be known, but it's worth pointing out that for the men of lesser rank who were planning the rebellion weeks before Buckingham himself joined the conspiracy, the initial objective was to restore Edward V to the throne. Some of these men might have been motivated by self-interest, but many others had lost nothing materially by Richard's seizure of the throne; a number of the rebels, indeed, had gained at the hands of Richard III. For these members of the gentry, loyalty to the memory of Edward IV, and their belief that Richard had acted wrongly in deposing his son, drove their actions. To me, these brave men were the heroes of 1483.