Tag Archives: Richard Duke of York
The Wars of the Roses/Lancaster and York/Usurpation and the right to the throne by females/Letter to Encyclopaedia Britannica
(The following is a slightly revised blog post I did on Margaret of Anjou, the subject of my novel in progress,
The Queen of Last Hopes. For more pieces about her and a picture gallery, see the links at the bottom of the page.)
Margaret of Anjou, queen to the unfortunate Henry VI, has surely been one of the most maligned English queens. She’s regularly portrayed as an adulteress and a vengeful harpy. One historical novel even has her repeatedly trying to murder her daughter-in-law, Anne Neville, though I never quite figured out why. (I’m not sure the author knew either.)
A set piece in many a Wars of the Roses novel, even some recent ones where the authors should have known better, involves cruel Margaret ordering immediately after the Battle of Wakefield that the severed heads of the Duke of York and his teenage son, the Earl of Rutland, be displayed and the Duke’s head be garnished with a
paper crown. In fact, Margaret was not at the Battle of Wakefield; she was in Scotland at the time. There’s even been considerable doubt cast as to the extent of the atrocities supposedly committed by her troops.
Firstly, I need to say that others have written about the battle of Wakefield in more depth than I can here. Keith Dockray & Richard Knowles’ excellent article can be found here in its entirety; and Helen Cox and Philip Haigh have both written more detailed accounts, among many others.
The battle itself, fought in the streets of St Albans, the royal standard raised then abandoned in the market square, lasted little over half an hour. Three prominent noblemen were killed. Henry VI was wounded. Yorkist propaganda got its first real work out. The Earl of Warwick’s reputation was made.
The Wars of the Roses/[NevillFeast]/Letter from York, Warwick and Salisbury to Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, 20 May 1455
Written in Royston, this letter was delivered to Archbishop Thomas Bourchier in London while the king was on his way to Leicester. John Say delivered it at Watford, though not into the king’s hands as York hoped. This is a long letter, and pretty dense, so I’m posting it with a translation below. (Translation from British History online, Parliamentary Rolls, Henry VI, 1455. http://www.british-
As members of the Archbishop’s family were split between the king’s forces and York’s, it would have been in his interests to try and broker a peaceful end to the very tense situation.
The letter has been described as ‘propaganda’, which it was certainly used for after the fact. I don’t doubt, however, that the three lords were genuinely concerned about their safety should the meeting at Leicester go ahead without them. There was a flurry of letters during the days leading up to the first battle of St Albans, all intended for the eyes of the king and none of them (apparently) reaching him. York blamed Somerset for withholding them and, according to the Fastolf Relation, Buckingham admitted to Mowbray Herald that Henry hadn’t seen them. Whether anything would have changed had the king read the letters is, of course, impossible to know.
The Wars of the Roses/Aftermath[From Susan Higginbotham ”In Their Own Words”]/Letter of Henry VII to His Mother Margaret of Beaufort
[Source: Original Letters Illustrative of English History, H. Ellis, ed., series 1, vol. 1]
S. B. Chrimes in his biography states that this letter, written to Margaret, Countess of Richmond, was probably written in 1501. Note the charming postscript, in which Henry apologizes for not writing more often and cites
his worsening eyesight as an excuse.