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

STARZ ‘The White Queen’: Elizabeth Woodville

The “common” Queen

Rebecca Ferguson as Queen Elizabeth.

Rebecca Ferguson as Queen Elizabeth.

A young commoner from the House of Lancaster with angelic beauty and high intellect, Elizabeth becomes widowed when her first husband is killed in battle. She is left to fend for herself with two small boys, until fate introduces her to the noble King Edward IV (Max Irons) from the House of York. They both fall madly in love, and after a secret wedding she becomes Queen of England. At the outset of their lives together, Elizabeth’s motives are pure but once she finds herself on the throne, Elizabeth becomes fiercely protective of her family as she sees the dangerous forces surrounding her in the perilous politics of the day. — STARZ

The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins’ War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this extraordinary family drama to vivid life through its women – beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

Philippa Gregory's new covers to promote "The White Queen."

Philippa Gregory’s new covers to promote “The White Queen.”

Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband [Sir John Grey of Groby, by whom she has issue] is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children.

In The White Queen Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower whose fate remains unknown to this day. — Gregory

Philippa Gregory's new covers to promote "The White Queen."

Philippa Gregory’s new covers to promote “The White Queen.”

Elizabeth Woodville’s (Rebecca Ferguson) mother. Jacquetta hails from royalty through the House of Burgundy. She is a kind, caring and loving mother. As the matriarch of the family and a woman who feels she is in tune with the Earth and worldly callings, Jacquetta encourages the romance between Elizabeth and Edward, claiming it to be destiny. Jacquetta wants only the best for her daughter, and in Edward, she has gotten it, along with a proper place for herself and the rest of her family in history. That is, if they all can weather the raging political storm. — STARZ

Jacquetta of Luxembourg portrayed by Janet McTeer.

Jacquetta of Luxembourg portrayed by Janet McTeer.

Elizabeth Woodville was the niece of Queen Katherine’s maternal great-great-grandmother Joan Wydeville [Katherine would have been a first cousin, thrice removed of Queen Elizabeth by her mother, Maud Green]. Joan Wydeville married Sir William Haute/Hawte. Their daughter, Alice, married Sir John Fogge. The Haute family which Joan married into was quite prominent during the reign of Edward IV and Richard III. Fogge had originally been a supporter of the Lancastrian king, but in 1460 Fogge joined the Yorkist earls in Kent. It is obvious however that he was a Yorkist by the families which he married into; Alice Kyriel (daughter of Yorkist Sir Thomas) and Alice Haute c. 1465 who was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. The previous year, Elizabeth Woodville had married Edward. Queen Elizabeth brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her. Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) would be one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin, queen consort Elizabeth Woodville during the 1460s. (Harris) The other ladies included her sister Lady Anne (wife of William Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier and George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent) and her sister-in-law Lady Elizabeth Scales (wife of Sir Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers). (Harris)

Katherine Parr was also a descendant of Henry V, Count of Luxembourg and Marguerite de Bar; William II, Baron of Tingry and Blanche de Brienne; Guy of Dampierre, Count of Flanders; and several other paternal ancestors of Jacquetta of Luxembourg.

Elizabeth Woodville portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson.

Elizabeth Woodville portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson.

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STARZ Official Trailer

The White Queen BBC one commercial – Directors cut from Jamie Childs on Vimeo.


See also —

Starz ‘The White Queen’: The Kingmaker’s Daughters

Starz ‘The White Queen’: Lady Margaret Beaufort

Sources

  • Philippa Gregory.The White Queen (the family tree is not correct and has many links missing!)
  • STARZ. “The White Queen,” August 2013.
  • Philippa Gregory. “The New Cousins’ War Series Book Covers,” 9 May 2013.
  • Barbara J. Harris. “English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550 : Marriage and Family, Property and Careers: Marriage and Family, Property and Careers,” Oxford University Press, Jul 26, 2002. pg 218.

Links