The White Queen: The REAL Duchess of York

Lady Cecily, Duchess of York portrayed by Caroline Goodall.

Lady Cecily, Duchess of York portrayed by Caroline Goodall.

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.[1] In 1460, York was named Prince of Wales and again Lord Protector of the Realm.[2] 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.[3] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Titles

Princess of Wales[2]
Duchess of Cornwall[2]
Duchess of York
Countess of March
Countess of Cambridge
Countess of Ulster
Countess of Chester[2]

“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

cecily1

“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.

Sources

  1. DK Publishing. History of Britain & Ireland, Penguin, May 2, 2011. pg 122. Google eBooks
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. Joanna Laynesmith. ‘The Kings’ Mother,’ History today. 56, no. 3, (2006): 38.
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The White Queen: romance, sex, magic, scowling, social snobbery and battles

“The White Queen: romance, sex, magic, scowling, social snobbery and battles” by Amy Licence

How important is authenticity when filming historical dramas?
Terribly important! You should see the notes I sent to the series producers waxing lyrical about the use of horses, clothes, how people travelled, and so on. That sort of thing really matters. However, there are a number of compromises you do have to make when working in film, which can be  very frustrating – that’s why I’m a novelist, I suppose.

Historical fiction, when written well, can teach you these things without you having to study it. (Philippa Gregory, BBC History Magazine Interview)

“It is a little more Romeo and Juliet than accurate medieval protocol.” (Licence)

cecily_1

Elizabeth and her mother Lady Rivers meet the King’s mother in ‘The White Queen’, episode 1.

Sunday nights episode of ‘The White Queen’ in my opinion was great. Put a woman screenwriter together with the BBC and bam! However there was something that really made me angry about the episode and surprise, surprise — I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE who had a problem with it.

Lady Cecily, Duchess of York portrayed by Caroline Goodall.

Lady Cecily, Duchess of York portrayed by Caroline Goodall.

Amy Licence, author of the latest biography of Queen Anne Neville and Elizabeth of York reviewed the first episode. Licence and I agree on this both — she basically sums up that they (screenwriter or Gregory herself) REALLY screwed up on behalf of Lady Cecily Neville, Duchess of York (grandaunt of Anne Neville); thank you Lord!

Jacquetta Rivers portrayed by Janet McTeer and Lady Cecily portrayed by Caroline Goodall

Jacquetta Rivers portrayed by Janet McTeer and Lady Cecily portrayed by Caroline Goodall

“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.”

I’m going to be brutally honest here — are you kidding me?? I don’t like Jacquetta’s “holier than thou” attitude that is emerging. This was obviously a horrid and tasteless attempt to boost Jacquetta’s influence and “power” over the Duchess. It’s more than obvious that Gregory has become obsessed with Jacquetta and her daughter. In my opinion, if they REALLY wanted to boost Jacquetta SO much — they could have done it in a different way. They didn’t have to insult the King’s mother, the daughter of a powerful Earl and Countess Lady Joan Beaufort, granddaughter of a royal Duke of Lancaster and titular King of Castile [son of King Edward III of England], and widow of the Duke of York [double descendant of Edward III]! I know it didn’t happen in history, but still — that scene should have been cut or done differently. If they had been at court and the Duchess had been sitting with her son, I do not think the two would have addressed each other as such and Elizabeth wouldn’t have pulled the Queen card after letting her mother b***h out her mother-in-law. It’s rather ironic that Elizabeth comes in flabbergasted, but after her mother calls her mother-in-law a whore she has the nerve and guts to demand the Duchess bow down to her; then gloats to her husband how everyone is “great friend’s” now. Yeah, sure — Elizabeth is now best friends with “Duchess Cecily”. I don’t think Gregory thought about court etiquette when writing these books and whoever approved the scene has not read any history books lately.

Margaret Beaufort portrayed by Amanda Hale and Lord Warwick portrayed by James Frain

Margaret Beaufort portrayed by Amanda Hale and Lord Warwick portrayed by James Frain

“James Frain, recently lauded for his performance as Thomas Cromwell in The Tudors, may well emerge to steal the show alongside Margaret Beaufort and the other York brothers…” Even Licence applauds Lady Margaret Beaufort early on.

For the complete review — http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/06/white-queen-romance-sex-magic-scowling-social-snobbery-and-battles

“The Queen’s Gambit” by Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen's Gambit Free, released 14 Mar 2013 in the UK. See Amazon.co.uk

Queen’s Gambit, released 14 Mar 2013 in the UK. See Amazon.co.uk

Queen's Gambit: A Novel [Hardcover] by Elizabeth Fremantle. Due 11 June 2013 in the US. See Amazon.com

Queen’s Gambit: A Novel [Hardcover] by Elizabeth Fremantle. Due 11 June 2013 in the US. See Amazon.com

New historical fiction book on Queen Katherine Parr by Elizabeth Fremantle.
“In Queen’s Gambit, Elizabeth Fremantle has taken on this extraordinary figure who lived more fully in her fewer than forty years than most women of her age and I think she has done Katherine Parr proud.”

For winter nights - A bookish blog

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 480
Year: 2013, Pb 2014
Buy: Hardback, Kindle, Paperback
Source: Review copy

Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth FremantleReview
Katherine Parr had the distinction of outliving her husband Henry VIII. This remarkable – and most definitely not guaranteed at the time – fact means that she is among historical fiction’s more neglected Tudor wives. Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and even Katherine of Aragon are difficult to compete with. This is a pity for at least two reasons: firstly, I was named after Katherine (or Katharine) Parr so I’m unashamedly biased and, secondly, she was a remarkable woman in her own right. Not only did she manage to outfox and outlive a man who almost certainly wanted to cut her head off at least once, Katherine also had an intellectual and religious curiosity that made her stand out in those days, among women and among reformers…

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