It took me until the season finale to get to writing about the relations in the series. I won’t deny, I was thinking of not even watching. After The White Queen, I was repulsed. Ok, so there are NO other shows that feature this time period–with such depth. Surprisingly, I fell in love with this series. Why? Actors were better and the clothing of Queen Elizabeth was gorgeous! Big thank you to the costume designers and hair dressers! BRAVO!
So, why am I doing an article on Katherine Parr in relation to those historical figures featured in The White Princess? Because the Parr family was there at court. They were ALWAYS there. Why are they not featured? I honestly have no idea. It’s a pity that these shows don’t weave in connections to the future Queens of England. We know that the Boleyn, Seymour, and Howards were present. The Howards are the easiest to track. The Boleyn family starts to come around with the Howards eventually. And the Seymours? They are also around, somewhere.
The Parr family, however, were courtiers to the Crown since the 1300s.
In the reign of Henry Tudor, the Parrs’ were quite close to the crown on both the side of Henry AND Elizabeth. Sir William Parr had died shortly after the coronation of King Richard III and Queen Anne. His widow, Lady Elizabeth (born FitzHugh), had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne as Duchess and Queen. She was part of the coronation and witnessed her niece and cousin being crowned. After the death of her first husband, Lord Parr, Elizabeth would marry again to a very close ally of the Lancastrians/King Henry. His name was Sir Nicholas Vaux. He was the son of Lancastrian sympathizers. His mother was a lady to Queen Margaret of Anjou and was with her in exile. Lady Margaret Beaufort was close to Parr’s step-father, Sir Nicholas Vaux, who had been educated in her household. Parr is also believed to have spent some time in her household and may have been educated there as well. That wouldn’t be completely absurd seeing how close Margaret was to the Vaux family.
Katherine’s father, Sir Thomas Parr, was a close friend of King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas was present at court and was in the circle of Henry VIII which included Sir Thomas Boleyn. Both were knighted in 1509 at Henry’s coronation; Parr was also made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Sheriff of Northamptonshire on that occasion. Parr became Master of the Wards and Comptroller of the household of Henry VIII. Parr’s brother, William [later Baron Parr of Horton], was also a part of the King’s circle. They kept company with the Staffords and their cousins, the Nevilles. They were also friend’s with the Carews and Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn. In 1515, Parr was entrusted with escorting Queen Margaret of Scotland [the king’s elder sister] from Newcastle back to London.
As for Elizabeth of York’s connection to Katherine Parr, we have it on both sides. One comes from her father’s royal blood and the other comes from a Woodville connection that connects her mother to one of Elizabeth Woodville’s relatives. Lady Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) was a lady to Queen Elizabeth Woodville. When Elizabeth became queen to Edward IV, she brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her. Lady Fogge, was one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, in the 1460s.
On the 30th of December 1460, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and his forces were caught by surprise by the Queen’s forces at Sandal Castle near Wakefield where they had been stationed for over two weeks. Richard knew the battle was lost and that he would likely die so he sent his son (Edmund, Earl of […]
29 JULY 1504: THE DEATH of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby
Thomas Stanley was born c. 1435 to Sir Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley and Joan Goushill, daughter of Sir Robert of Heveringham Goushill and Lady Elizabeth FitzAlan, Duchess of Norfolk; herself the daughter of the 11th Earl of Arundel and Lady Elizabeth de Bohun. Lady Elizabeth was aunt to a royal Duchess, Lady Eleanor, who married Prince Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester [youngest son of King Edward III] and the wife of the future King Henry IV, Lady Mary [she died in 1394; Henry was crowned in 1399]. Mary was the mother of Henry IV’s heir, Henry V.
So, Thomas was born in to good stock having connections to the Lancastrian monarchs. Thomas would have been a 3rd cousin of King Henry VI having shared 2nd great-grandparents; Sir William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton [grandson of Edward I] and Lady Elizabeth [born Badlesmere].
Although Henry VI was King during Stanley’s career at court, Stanley’s family married him to a daughter of Sir Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Alice Montacute, Countess of Salisbury.
Through his paternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Stanley [born Harrington], Lord Stanley was a first cousin, twice removed of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal. The two shared Sir Nicholas Harrington and Isabel English as grandparents [Parr was a 2nd great-grandchild]. Lady Elizabeth Stanley was aunt to Lady Alice Parr [born Tunstall] by her sister, Lady Elizabeth Tunstall [born Harrington]. Lady Alice Parr married Sir Thomas Parr, Sheriff of Westmorland; they were grandparents to Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal.
In addition to being related to Thomas Parr by Lady Alice, Parr’s grandaunt was Lady Eleanor Neville; wife of Thomas Stanley. Eleanor and Thomas had seven sons and six daughters. Eleanor died shortly after Edward IV was reinstated as King for the second time .
Upon Stanley’s marriage to Lady Margaret Beaufort in 1482–it was not expected of Margaret to supply him with anymore children. Margaret must have been relieved. After her birth of her only child, Henry Tudor, at the age of 12/13, she probably didn’t want to experience the pain that she had at such a young age.
Stanley is known for his support of his stepson, Henry Tudor, against Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. His decision to back Tudor ultimately decided the fate of the outcome. Richard would be defeated. On the battlefield, it is said that Stanley crowned his stepson, King of England, as King Henry VII [of the House of Tudor]. Did Stanley’s attachment to Henry’s mother have anything to do with the defeat? Most likely. However, there was another reason Stanley may have switched loyalties.
The following is the statement of the Croyland Chronicler, a contemporary of the events which he records:
“A little before the landing of these persons (Richmond and his adherents) Thomas Stanley, Steward of the King’s Household, had received permission to go into Lancashire to visit his house and his family, from whom he had long been separated. Still, however, he was permitted to stay there on no other condition than that of sending his eldest son, GeorgeLordStanley, to theKingat Nottingham in his stead, which he accordingly did“.
The same chronicler avers that after the landing ofRichmondwas known toRichard, theKingsummonedLordStanleyto join him at Nottingham, and received a refusal on the plea of sickness. Soon afterwards, it is added,LordStrangeattempted to escape, was prevented, then confessed his guilt, acknowledging that his uncle,Sir WilliamStanley, was privy toRichmond’s expedition, but declaring that his father was innocent, and if his own life were spared would still join theKing.
IfLordStanleydid not joinRichmondon his landing, it was, we are told, because he feared for the life of his son, then very possibly safe and sound at Latham. It isLordStrange’s perilous position that, in the old chronicles, makesLord Stanleypretend to retreat from Lichfield, which he left open toRichmond; this is what he pleaded as an excuse for his neutrality, during, the alleged interview withRichmondat Atherstone three nights before the battle; and this is to account for his indecision during the battle itself. Perhaps it may turn out thatLordStrangewas never inRichard’s hands at all, and thatLordStanleynever stirred a finger or moved a man until the fate of the battle was decided. All accounts agree thatRichard’s final charge might have been successful had notSirWilliamStanley, with his three thousand men, suddenly come to the rescue ofRichmond. ButSirWilliamseems to have been a rasher, or rapider man than his elder brother, and much more ready to run risks. WhenRichardwas killed and the battle over, the battered crown which had fallen from his helmet during the conflict was, according to a plausible tradition, placed byLordStanleyor his brother on the head of the victoriousRichmond. There was no longer room for doubts, scruples, hesitations. Nor did theStanleys show any pity for those of their coadjutors of the ended reign, who to the last had remained faithful and true toRichard. Three days after the battle a batch ofRichard’s adherents was executed -Catesbyamong them. He made his will on the day of execution, and it contained this significant, this striking passage and petition: “My Lord Stanley, Strange, and all that blood! help! and pray for my soul, for ye have not for my body, as I trusted in you“.
Eleanor was buried in London’s St. James’s Church, Garlickhithe. There is no evidence that her body was reinterred at Burscough Abbey, the Stanleys burial place in Lancashire; although an effigy of her was added to Lord Stanley’s grave when he was buried in 1504.
Lord Stanley [Earl of Derby by now] died, probably about the age of seventy. His death must have occurred between the 28 Jul 1504, on which day his will was dated, and the 29 Nov in the same year, the day on which it was proved. He left to theKinga cup of gold, and legacies to this abbey and to that, duly providing too for masses on behalf of his own soul, of those of his wives, relations, friends, servants, and in one case, especially for the souls of all them lie had in any wise offended, and for all Christian souls.
David Baldwin. The Kingmaker’s Sisters: Six Powerful Women in the War of the Roses, 2009. The History Press, Gloucestershire, England, UK.
Tudor Place Bios. Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, Online Source.
Lady Anne Devereux, Countess of Pembroke, Baroness Herbert (c. 1430,Bodenham– after June 25, 1486), was a daughter of a Yorkist Knight. By her marriage to Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Baron Herbert, Anne became a leading noblewoman in Wales.
Anne was the daughter of SirWalter Devereux, theLord Chancellor of Ireland, and his wifeElizabeth Merbury. Lord Devereux and his son-in-law, Lord Herbert, were responsible for the capture of Sir Edmund Tudor [father to the future King Henry VII]. Tudor was a half-brother to the Lancastrian King Henry VI by his mother’s second marriage to Owen Tudor.
Anne had two siblings, Walter and John. Walter was knighted after the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 by the Yorkist King Edward IV. By right of his wife, the heiress Lady Anne, 7th Baroness Ferrers of Chartley, he was raised to Baron Ferrers of Chartley on 26 July 1461. Lord Walter held various positions during the ruling of the House of York [Kings Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III] but was ultimately killed in the last battle of the War of the Roses, the Battle of Bosworth 22 August 1485. He was succeeded by his son and heir, John, who became the 8th Baron Ferrers of Chartley. The 8th Baron would marry Lady Cecily Bourchier [her paternal grandparents were both descendants of King Edward III. Cecily was also a niece of queen consort Elizabeth Woodville by Cecily’s mother, Anne]. The couple were 2nd great-grandparents to Sir Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex who was a favorite of Queen Regnant Elizabeth I [daughter of King Henry VIII of the House of Tudor].
The Crophull Inheritance
Anne’s grandfather, Walter, was the son of Agnes Crophull. By Crophull’s second marriage toSir John Parr, Anne was a cousin to the Parr family which includedSir Thomas Parr; father of KingHenry VIII’slast queen consort, Katherine Parr.
Anne’s great-grandmother was a great heiress of her father. She was married firstly to Sir Walter Devereux [died 1402] while she was still underage. Upon Agnes’s coming of age in September 1385, Devereux seized the remaining estates based on his marriage right in 1386. These included Weobley manor (Herefordshire); Sutton Bonnington manor and lands at Arnold (Nottinghamshire); the manors of Cotesbach, Braunston, and Hemington (Leicestershire); and an estate at Market Rasen (Lincolnshire). Weobley would become his principal residence.
When Agnes Crophull died on 9 Feb 1436, Crophull’s heir was Anne Devereux’s father, Sir Walter Devereux [grandson of Crophull]. Estates like Lyonshall passed to Walter from Agnes, and also by right of his wife, Elizabeth Merbury, who was the daughter [step-daughter of Agnes] of Agnes Crophull’s third husband, John Merbury, by a previous marriage. Merbury and Agnes were buried together in Weobley’s Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul. Anne’s great-grandfather, Walter [first husband to Agnes Crophull], is also supposedly buried there in a separate tomb. Through her father, Anne was a descendant of KingHenry IIand his wifeEleanor of Aquitaineby their childrenJohn, King of EnglandandEleanor of England, Queen of Castile.
About 1445, Anne married Sir William Herbert, [later 1st Earl of Pembroke], in Herefordshire, England. He was the second son of SirWilliam ap Thomasof Raglan, a member of theWelsh Gentry Family, and his second wifeGwladys ferch Dafydd Gam.
Sir William Herbert was a very ambitious man. During theWar of the Roses, Wales heavily supported theLancastriancause.Jasper Tudor, 1st Earl of Pembrokeand other Lancastrians remained in control of fortresses atPembroke,Harlech,Carreg Cennen, andDenbigh. On 8 May 1461, as a loyal supporter of KingEdward IV, Herbert was appointed Life Chamberlain ofSouth Walesand steward ofCarmarthenshireandCardiganshire. King Edward’s appointment signaled his intention to make replace Jasper Tudor with Herbert who would become the premier nobleman in Wales. Herbert was createdLord Herberton 26 July 1461. Herbert was then ordered to seize the county and title of Earl of Pembroke from Jasper Tudor. On 29 March 1461, Lord Herbert became the 1st Earl of Pembroke. By the end of August, Herbert had taken back control of Wales with the well fortifiedPembroke Castlecapitulating on 30 September 1461. With this victory for theHouse of Yorkcame the inmate at Pembroke; the five year old nephew of Jasper Tudor,Henry, Earl of Richmond. Determined to enhance his power and arrange good marriages for his daughters, in March 1462 he paid 1,000 for the wardship of Henry Tudor. Herbert planned a marriage between Tudor and his eldest daughter, Maud. At the same time, Herbert secured the youngHenry Percywho had just inherited the title of Earl of Northumberland. Herbert’s court atRaglan Castlewas where young Henry Tudor would spend his childhood, under the supervision of Herbert’s wife, Anne Devereux. While at Raglan Castle, Anne must have understood the importance of the potential marriage between her daughter and Henry Tudor. Therefore, Anne insured that young Henry was well cared for.
In the Battle of Edgecote on 26 July 1469, the Yorkists, led by Pembroke, were defeated by the Lancastrians. The Lancastrians were lead by Sir Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick; the man who helped Edward, Earl of March become King Edward IV.[a] Warwick had decided to fight against his cousin Edward and restored the Lancastrian King Henry VI for a few years while Edward went into exile. After the battle, the Earl of Pembroke and his brother Richard were executed near Banbury by the Lancastrians. Henry Tudor was lead from the battlefield to the home of Pembroke’s brother-in-law, Lord Ferrers, at Weobley in Herefordshire. It was there that Sir Reginald Bray, a servant of Henry Tudor’s mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, found Tudor six days after the battle. Anne, now Dowager Countess of Pembroke, was found sheltered by Lord Ferrers where she continued to look after Henry Tudor.
The Earl and Countess of Pembroke had three sons and seven daughters:
Sir William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Earl of Huntingdon, married firstly toMary Woodville; daughter ofRichard Woodville, 1st Earl Riversand thus sister to King Edward IV’s queen consortElizabeth Woodville. He married secondly to Lady Katherine Plantagenet, the illegitimate daughter of KingRichard III. [b]
Sir Walter Herbert
Sir George Herbert
Lady Maud Herbert, wife of SirHenry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, 7th Lord Percy.
Lady Katherine Herbert, wife of SirGeorge Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent.
Lady Anne Herbert, wife of SirJohn Grey, 1st Baron Grey of Powis.
Lady Margaret Herbert, wife of SirThomas Talbot, 2nd Viscount Lisle, and of Sir Walter Bodrugan.
Lady Cecily Herbert, wife of John Greystoke.
Lady Elizabeth Herbert, wife of Sir Thomas Cokesey.
Lady Crisli Herbert, wife of Mr. Cornwall.
Sadly, the earldom did not pass down through his son, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The 2nd Earl’s only child by Mary Woodville was a daughter, Lady Elizabeth Herbert. Lady Elizabeth became Baroness Herbert in her own right. As a woman, Lady Herbert could not inherit the Earldom of Pembroke. She did receive extensive lands in Wales.[c]
The Earl of Pembroke also fathered several children by various mistresses.
Sir Richard Herbert of Ewyas, Herefordshire was the illegitimate son of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke and most likely Maud, daughter of Adam ap Howell Graunt (Gwynn). Their son, William, would be created Earl of Pembroke [of the tenth creation] on 11 October 1551 by King Edward VI [son of King Henry VIII]. This brought the Earldom back into the Herbert family where it remains to this day. Pembroke was lucky enough to marry to Anne Parr.[d]
Sir George Herbert. The son of Frond verch Hoesgyn. Married Sybil Croft.
Sir William Herbert of Troye. Son of Frond verch Hoesgyn. Married, second, Blanche Whitney (née Milborne) see Blanche Herbert, Lady Troy. They had two sons.
After the death of her husband, the Dowager Countess was recorded as still living after 25 June 1486. She most likely died soon after.
[a] Lord Warwick was the son of Sir Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Lady Alice, Countess of Salisbury [in her own right]. Salisbury and his siblings by Lady Joan Beaufort was a grandson of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Titular King of Castile [son of King Edward III]. One of Salisbury’s siblings was none other then Lady Cecily [Duchess of York] who would marry to the Yorkist rival, Richard, 3rd Duke of York. The couple were parents to both Kings Edward IV and Richard III. Lord Warwick’s siblings included Lady Alice FitzHugh [born Neville] who was mother to Lady Elizabeth Parr; the second husband of Sir William Parr, Baron Parr of Kendal. The two were grandparents to queen consort of Henry VIII [great-grandson of the Duke and Duchess of York], Katherine Parr.
[b] Lady Herbert married to Lord Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester, a legitimized son of Lord Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Worcester. The 3rd Duke was a son of Lord Edmund, 2nd Duke and Lady Elizabeth Beauchamp. Both parents had royal and noble descent. The 2nd Duke was from the legitimized line, the Beauforts, who were children of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. Elizabeth Beauchamp was the daughter of the 13th Earl of Warwick who was the father of Lady Anne Beauchamp who became the 16th Countess of Warwick in her own right after the death of her brother. Her title was inherited by her husband, the infamous “Warwick, the Kingmaker” [Sir Richard Neville,16th Earl of Warwick].
[c] In 1479, the Earldom was bestowed upon Prince Edward of York, later King Edward V [Plantagenet]. When the King went missing after being lodged in The Tower of London, the Earldom merged into the crown. It was restored under the new King, Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII of England. An interesting turn of events was in 1532. Henry VII’s son, Henry VIII decided to grant the title to Anne Boleyn as ‘Marquess of Pembroke’ two months before their marriage to elevate her status. Anne Boleyn had been lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s first wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon. A romance blossomed between the two despite her position as the daughter of a knight. They were eventually married under the “new religion” that made Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England. The Catholic Church never granted an annulment from his first marriage and never recognized the marriage of Henry and Anne. Anne was crowned queen and gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth [later queen]. After failing to produce a son, Anne had charges brought up against her that eventually led to her execution. Coincidentally, her own lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour, took Anne’s place as the next wife and queen consort. Queen Jane did give birth to a son, Edward [later King].
[d] Herbert married to Anne Parr, daughter of Sir Thomas [a courtier and favorite of King Henry VIII] and Lady Maud Parr [Green]. At the time, it was a step up for Herbert as Anne was descended from a great lineage. It has been said, that because of his marriage to Anne, it brought some legitimacy to the Herbert family. In 1543, Herbert’s sister-in-law, the Dowager Lady Katherine Latimer [widow of Sir John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer of Snape], would become the sixth and final queen consort to King Henry VIII. Both Lord and Lady Herbert were present at the ceremony. The marriage only brought on more advancement for Herbert and his family. After the death of King Henry VIII in 1547, Herbert became one of the guardians of the young King Edward VI. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1549, and created Baron Herbert of Cardiff on 10 October 1551, and 1st Earl of Pembroke of the [tenth creation] the following day.
On Whit-Sunday, the queen-dowager’s corpse was conveyed by water to Windsor, and there privily, through the little park, conducted into the castle, without any ringing of bells or receiving of the dean … and so privily, about eleven of the clock, she was buried, without any solem dirge done for her obit. (Gristwood)
The body was only accompanied by the prior of Charter-house, and Dr. Brent, and Mr. Haute. (Strickland) The only gentlewoman to accompany the body was Grace, one of the illegitimate daughters of Edward IV. The only children to accompany their mother was Princesses Anne, Katherine, and Bridget. Also present was Woodville’s son and daughter-in-law, the Marquess and Marchioness of Dorset. Elizabeth of York and her sister Cecily were not present. (Gristwood) The priest of the college received the queen in the Castle.
On the morn thither came Audley, Bishop of Rochester, to do the office, but that day nothing was done solemnly for her saving; also a hearse, such as they use for the common people, with wooden candlesticks about it, and a black [pall] of cloth of gold on it, four candlesticks of silver gilt, every one having a taper of no great weight. (Strickland)
On the Tuesday hither came, by water, king Edward’s three daughters, the lady Anne, the lady Katherine, and the lady Bridget [the nun princess] from Dartford, accompanied by the marchioness of Dorset, daughter of the duke of Buckingham, the queen’s niece, the daughter of the marquis of Dorset; Lady Herbert, also niece to the queen; dame Katherine Grey; dame Guildford (governess to the children of Elizabeth of York); their gentlewomen walked behind the three daughters of the dead. Also that Tuesday came the marquis of Dorset, son to the queen; the of Essex, her brother-in-law and; the viscount Welles, her son-in-law. And that night began the dirge. But neither at the dirge were twelve poor men clad in black, but a dozen divers old men that old men dressed in the many coloured garments of poverty– “and held old torches and torches ends. And the next morning one the canons called master Vaughan sang Our Lady mass at which lord Dorset offered a piece of gold he kneeled at the hearse head ladies came not to the mass of requiem and the lords sat about in quire My lady Anne came to offer the mass penny and herofficers arms went before her she offered the penny at the head of the queen she had the carpet and the oushion And the viscount Welles his wife’s offering and dame Katherine Gray bare the lady Anne’s every one of the king’s daughters offered. The marquis of offered a piece of gold and all the lords at their pleasure the knights of Windsor dean canons yeomen and officers at arms
Twelve poor men neatly clad in black that custom would have dictated at the ceremony, there were only “a dozen divers old men, and they held old torches and torches’ ends.” (Gristwood)
Sarah Gristwood. Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the War of the Roses, Basic Books, Mar 4, 2014.
Agnes Strickland. Lives of the queens of England, from the Norman conquest, 1864.
King Edward IV’s Paternity and The Duchess of York’s Reputation
(Intro and editing by Meg McGath)
Edward IV was born on April 28th, 1442 in Rouen, France. He was the eldest surviving son of Lord Richard, Duke of York and Lady Cecily (Neville), later known as “Queen by Right”. Edward became the first York monarch after his father was killed in battle. His father had planned on being crowned as soon as possible, but his untimely death left his son and heir the new King of England. Edward was King from 1460 to 1470 then again in 1471 until his death in 1483. Edward was cousin to queen Katherine Parr’s paternal great-grandmother, Lady Alice FitzHugh (born Neville). The relationship between Katherine Parr’s paternal grandfather, Lord Parr of Kendal, and Edward IV has been well documented as the two were close due to his marriage to Edward’s cousin, Elizabeth FitzHugh. The FitzHugh’s were closely affiliated with the Earl of Salisbury (Katherine Parr’s great-great-grandfather) and the Earl of Warwick (Parr’s great-granduncle). The FitzHugh and the Earl of Warwick’s properties were in close proximity so Elizabeth grew up next to her cousins Ladies Isabel (later Duchess of Clarence) and Anne (later queen).
King Edward IV’s Paternity and The Duchess of York’s Reputation by Carolina Casas
The ‘White Queen‘ (BBC) popularized the myth that Edward IV was the son of a Welsh archer called Blaybourne; a result of an affair Blaybourne had with Edward’s mother Cecily while she and the Duke of York were in Rouen. Several historians have given credence to this myth arguing that Cecily conceived while her husband was away fighting at Pontoise. While the fact that York fought in Pontoise in August is true – it is in no way proof that Edward was the product of an illicit union. What none of these historians and novelists factored in however, is the time between conception and giving birth. Nowadays with modern science it is easier to predict when one conceives and one gives birth, but it is not an exact science yet. There will be mistakes. There will be factors that determine whether a pregnancy comes to term or not, whether the baby arrives at the exact date the doctor or midwife foresees is 50/50. Now imagine yourself in the first half of the fifteenth century with no modern medicine and only midwives and religious superstition to tell you whether you were pregnant or not, if the child you expected was a boy or girl, or if you were closer to term according to the fullness of your belly. Doesn’t sound like it would give us much accuracy, does it?
This is the world that medieval women lived in. They had to rely on the science of the day which was religion and they had no other experts to go on to give them advice except for midwives and they had to believe in (outrageous to us now) methods of conception such as potions made of different ingredients like rabbit’s blood, sheep urine, mare’s milk, quale’s testicles, etc. Edward was Cecily’s third pregnancy. She and the Duke were married by October 1429 (some put their marriage two years before when she had reached the age of majority that was required of girls to marry at twelve); he would have been eighteen and she fourteen. They didn’t have their first child until 1439, more than eight years after their marriage. If Cecily and Richard were eager to conceive why wait so long? Like with most arranged marriages, there was bound to be some shyness. Richard and Cecily were by no means strangers to each other. Before Cecily’s father died, he passed on Richard’s custody to his wife Lady Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (only daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford Roet). Cecily was the youngest of Lady Joan’s children and being so close in age, Cecily and Richard grew up under the same roof and it is highly likely that when Lady Joan took Richard to London, she brought along her daughter. But being so young, they could have been hesitant to consummate the marriage and waited until they knew each other better. There is no indicator that the couple was unhappy, it soon became known that Cecily was an excellent mistress of the Duke’s household and tried in every way to imitate the royal court by ordering expensive fabrics and arranging for extravagant banquets, especially after he became Lord Lieutenant in Normandy and moved to Rouen. The reason as to why the couple might not have had children is because before moving to Normandy, Richard was often away. This was the reality many wives had to face. Husbands were often gone for long periods of time due to war or business. Another possibility could be that because during this period miscarriages and births were not often recorded, she could have been pregnant but suffered several other miscarriages that we simply do not know about.
Either way, the fact remains that when Edward was born there was not a lot of fanfare for his christening. This could have been due to him being conceived after Richard, Duke of York returned from Pontoise which would make Edward premature and make his parents alarmed since this was an age where infant mortality was very high. Newborns that were too small or too weak were christened immediately to save them from the eternal damnation of limbo. This makes even more sense when we take into account that the year before Cecily had given birth to a boy who lived less than a week. It was vital at the time for the two to have a male heir to continue the York line.
During his lifetime, Richard, Duke of York never showed any indication that he suspected Edward was not his. In fact during their last years at Rouen before they were recalled to England, he was negotiating a marriage between his son and the King of France (Charles) daughter, Marie, who was born in 1444. Had Edward not been his son, he would not have shown this much favor or invested so much in his education and military training. As for the silly rumors of his appearance that he was fair while his father and brother (Richard III) were dark, we must remember that Edward III (from where both his parents descended) was fair and tall so he could have gotten his looks either from their ancestor or his mother.
The theories that still surround his parentage are nothing but wild rumors and conjectures based on propaganda and history is filled with this. History is made by the winner but I would also add, by conspiracy and fantasy and very often these get mixed up with the truth that in the end we lose track of what is fact and what is fantasy.
The fact of the matter is, the name Blaybourne did not come up until 1460 which was the year let us all remember that England was in open war with itself, two rivaling Houses –Lancaster and York- competing for the English throne. York had used years before the same device against the Lancastrian Queen, Marguerite of Anjou to strengthen his own claim, now it was only fair that her side shot back by saying the same thing about his wife. It was a way to discredit Richard and discredit his son who was the Earl of March at this time. That was what was often done to opponents of the king when they wanted to take his crown, they spread rumors surrounding their rival’s parentage or their families, and the targets would always be women.
Cecily Neville is known today by many names –“proud Cis” “Queen by Rights” “Rose of Raby” –etc. She’s been portrayed countless of times in fiction, sometimes negatively, sometimes positively, but all of these portrayals miss the real woman behind the myth. The real truth about Cecily lies buried in the pages of her religious books, in her sons, her actions, her words and her religion which she always held dear. As a noble woman, she held to the standards of the time by giving opulent parties and indulging in the fashions of the time, she was known to be one of the best dressed women in England, as a woman she was a mother and peacemaker, she always tried to bring her sons together when she sensed there was trouble. And as a Duchess, she was her husband’s equal. Richard relied on her for everything. Whenever he returned he always asked for her to accompany him, after his short-lived triumph in 1460, he sent for his wife to London to join him in his triumphant moment when he attempted to take the throne. After he had been recognized as the King’s legal heir years back, Cecily began using the moniker “Queen by Rights”; after he died she became her son’s advisor and the first woman in the fifteenth century to use the title “my lady the King’s mother”, and until her son married in 1464, she was the top woman in England. After years of fighting however, Cecily retired and chose to lead an ascetic life. Like her mother, she was very religious and aware of her lineage. While there were cases of spousal infidelity, a woman like Cecily was unlikely to risk everything she had for an affair.
Scene RE-DONE the way it should have been done! You bow twice to the King’s mother and she doesn’t back down!
After the first episode of ‘The White Queen’, I was quite upset at the representation of the King’s mother, the Duchess of York [I even wrote a blog I was SO upset]. As a royal Duchess who would have become Queen if her husband had not died — she was in fact practically queen in all but name; Queen Mother. Her husband, Richard, Duke of York, was granted the title of Prince of Wales and Lord Protector so Cecily was technically Princess of Wales before her husband died.
“But for an accident of fate would have been queen”. (‘At the King’s Pleasure’: The Testament of Cecily Neville by Alison Spedding)
Born Lady Cecily Neville, she was part of the powerful Neville family which would help bring her son to the throne. Cecily was the youngest daughter of Sir Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and his second wife, Lady Joan Beaufort, herself the daughter of one of the most powerful royal Princes and noblemen in history, Prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. As such, Lady Cecily was a niece of King Henry IV of England, cousin of King Henry V, and cousin, once removed of King Henry VI. And by the marriages the children of the Duke of Lancaster made, Cecily was kin to several royal houses on the continent, i.e, Portugal, Castile, and Burgundy. She was of royal blood being the great-granddaughter of King Edward III and his consort Philippa of Hainault.
Her husband, the Duke of York, was the leading contender for the House of York’s claim to the throne of England. York was made Lord Protector of England in 1453 and 1455, however he did not press his claim to the throne during these two periods. In 1460, York was named Prince of Wales and again Lord Protector of the Realm. With King Henry VI in custody, the Duke of York became the de facto ruler of England. However, before York could claim his crown, he was defeated in December 1460 at the Battle of Wakefield with his son, Edmund of York, and his brother-in-law the Earl of Salisbury. The Duchess of York narrowly missed becoming queen of England and her eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, was crowned Edward IV of England in March of 1461.
However, in 1477, following the marriage of her grandson Richard of York, the Duchess was accorded the title ‘Queen of right‘ after using the title of ‘Cecily, the king’s mother and late wife unto Richard in right king of England and of France and lord of Ireland’ since 1464.
Princess of Wales
Duchess of Cornwall
Duchess of York
Countess of March
Countess of Cambridge
Countess of Ulster
Countess of Chester
“Warwick rose toweringly. His rose-dappled mantle swirled; black hair curled on his brow. Everything of him was puissant and challenging and might have said: Behold us! We of the royal blood, of Edward the Third…” — ‘The King’s Grey Mare’ pg 53. [Warwick was Cecily’s powerful nephew who helped Edward to his throne].
The first episode as dictated by Gregory and her writer — was a travesty towards the Duchess.
“It was in the exchange with Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) however, that Jacquetta, as her daughter’s mouthpiece, really overstepped the historical mark. The disapproving Duchess, who was known in real life as “proud Cis,” is too easily overcome by her social inferiors when they whip out her apparent “secret” affair with a French archer. Lost for words, she is silenced within minutes, almost cowed by them. While contemporary notions of “courtesy” dictated extreme forms of submission to the queen, this is a Cecily straight from the pages of a novel rather than the actual proud aristocrat who asserted her own right to rule.” — Amy Licence
“You can lower you eyes all you want — I shall laugh and thank you for your visit…I AM the King’s mother and Duchess of York; queen of right!” — Lady Cecily, Duchess of York.
DK Publishing. History of Britain & Ireland, Penguin, May 2, 2011. pg 122. Google eBooks
Davies, John S. An English Chronicle of the Reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI, folios 208-211 (Google ebooks, retrieved 15 July 2013)
Alison J Spedding. ‘At the King’s Pleasure’: The Testament of Cecily Neville, University of Birmingham. Midland History, Vol 35, No 2, 2010. pg 256-72.