Saturday, April 17, 2010

The King is Dead, Long Live WHAT King?

Of course Henry didn't stay there long. Ya just can't have spare kings lying about like that waiting on peeps to raise rebellions. So in a cpl days old Henry was demised. They said it was of melancholy, which peeps bought b/c of what a fruitcake he was, but yrs later some peeps peeked into his grave & discovered his head had been coshed in rather efficiently. Shakespeare attributes such to Richard of Gloucester's own hand, but surely they had dirty work peeps for dirty work & didn't sully their own gloves w/ it.  Ya'd think if anyone ordered it done, twas Edward himself.  Henry spent all his time on his kneeler praying anyway, so twould be child's play to sneak up on him w/ a nice blunt object.

Edward settled his backside on the throne & proceeded to widen it greatly, as he was no slouch tippler or feaster himself in later yrs.  When ya got no wars to fight, there goes all the muscle.  George threw himself on his mercy & was pardoned.  Margaret got booted out to be the Frenchies' prob.  Peace & prosperity reigned.  Edward got lots of coin from the Frenchies by agreeing not to resume the Hundred Years' War w/ the Treaty of Picquigny, & everyone thunk the Wars of the Roses were over b/c there were like no Lancastrians left to challenge the House of York.  Margaret had handed over the northern fortress of Berwick-on-Tweed to the Scots for their help, but Edward managed to get that back, too.  More little Yorkists were born.  The heir was betrothed to Anne of Brittany, & his younger brother, Richard, Duke of York, was married at the age of 4 to 7 yo Anne Mowbray, the last of that line of Norfolks; alas, she demised age 10 & made the little prince a widower.  The eldest princess, Elizabeth, was betrothed to the French dauphin, but she got to stay at home b/c the kid was much younger than she.  Richard became his bro's great Lord of the North & kept those pesky Scots from gorging on too much steak & burgers, & he got to marry Prince Edward's widow Anne after all.  George pouted.

George, Duke of Clarence

Then George's wife died & George went amuck hanging peeps on his own accord blaming them for poisoning her & threatening Edward when he was taken to task for such, so Edward threw him in the Tower & glared at him for a while.  Cicely was all c'mon, Edward, play nicely w/ your bro.  But Edward decided George had to go.  He was just too much of an unstable, drunken whack job of an embarrassment.  Rumor had it he was even saying that Edward wasn't Richard of York's son, but the bastard product of a liaison w/ an archer that Cicely indulged in whilst waiting on York in Rouen during the Frenchie warring.  A Bill of Attainder was passed (George's 2 kids, Margaret & Edward, got nuffin from his estate & it reverted to the crown) & George was unusually given the privilege of choosing his own way to die.

Legend has it he was drowned in a cask of malmsey, his fav tipple. We really don't know how true that is but tis a darn fine story, huh?  Tis said he got a nice sleeping powder sprinkled over his last steak & then was upended in the barrel.  Ya gotta LOL just picturing such nonsense.  But hey, there was certainly no recorded axe-ing, so ya gotta hmmm about it.

Edward, who was now fat & 40, caught a cold hunting & demised unexpectedly, prolly of pneumonia.  When he realized he was pretty darn sick & like to shuck off his mortal coil a whole lot sooner than he'd expected (tho what he expected w/ chasing chicks & guzzling wine & dummying up to the buffet I am sure I dunno), he called in peeps & signed off on making bro Gloucester the Lord Protector of the Realm.   His heir Edward was almost 13 yo & was at Ludlow under the tutelage of Uncle Anthony learning how to be a good Prince of Wales.

Ludlow Castle

Elizabeth told her bro to hurry up & get the new little king to London to be crowned posthaste.  She decided not to notify Richard of Gloucester about it, but someone tattled anyway, & this is where stuff starts to get REALLY interesting.

Richard immediately suspected treachery afoot when one of his peeps came galloping way up to York to inform him of his bro's sudden demise, b/c, you see, he'd no OFFICIAL word.  So he quickly arranged a nice memorial Mass for Edward in York Cathedral where he gave a nice speech & swore his fealty to his nephew, now Edward V, b4 hurrying posthaste to London to see what was up that the Woodville creatures would dare exclude him.

Edward V

Just past Northampton he met up with Anthony Woodville AKA Lord Rivers, & Elizabeth's son by her 1st marriage, Richard Grey, who were escorting the new king in from Wales on the queen's orders.  Richard's advance scouts had brought him the news that Elizabeth's eldest, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, had already gone ahead & seized control of the Navy.  Whilst it wasn't much of a Navy in those days, twas still alarming b/c, yknow, ships have guns & peeps can board them to invade places.

Richard had summoned Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, to meet up w/ him; he was a royal duke b/c, like half the English nobility, he could pt to descendence from Edward & Philippa, & so Buckingham, tho his line came from their youngest son Thomas of Woodstock, could be said to have a claim to the throne as well.  Buckingham wasn't fussed w/ a Woodville wife (tho they bred lots so he couldn't have been THAT unfussed LOL), nor was he fussed w/ Lord Rivers being in charge of the little king's household when Buckingham himself was the premier landholder in the Welsh Marches, & felt slighted that Edward had overlooked him.  Never let a duke hold a grudge.

Buckingham & Gloucester conferred & agreed something was havey-cavey here what w/ nobody important getting notified of Edward's demise & Dorset playing Captain of the Fleet.  Just to be on the safe side, they took Rivers & Grey into custody & dispatched to be imprisoned in Pontefract.  Then they took control of the king's household & continued marching toward London.  Edward looked at em sideways & said um where'd Uncle Tony & my other brother Richie get to?  O didn't they tell ya?  Your Daddy named me your Lord Protector b/c you ain't old enough to be the king just yet, so I get to be in charge, not them, but I'm planning you a splendid coronation & stuff, so dinna fash yersel', Gloucester assured him.  Edward was all, jeez, no, 1st I heard of this, but if Daddy wanted you to be in charge, I'm OK w/ it, I guess.  Gloucester hadn't been to court much since he became the Great Lord of the North, so he wasn't well-acquainted w/ the royal brats.

Their suspicions of something not quite right here were confirmed when Elizabeth Woodville grabbed all her other kidlets (at this pt there was Elizabeth, Cicely, Richard, Anne, Catherine, & Bridget left, what with Margaret & George having demised young due to that pesky infant mortality thing & Mary dying of the consump a cpl mos back at age 14), ranging in age from 16 down to 3, & again fled into Sanctuary at Westminster. They figured the only reason the queen would have to do this is if she was plotting & afraid of the consequences. Dorset sailed off posthaste to Auntie Margaret in Burgundy, leaving his wife & 11dy6 kidlets to fend for themselves, & missed the ensuing festivities altogether. The new king was installed in the Tower.

This is not as ominous as it sounds, b/c the Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror, was intended to be a royal residence & fortress & as of yet it didn't have a really bad rap.  All those movies that show peeps in the dungeons there, well, they lie.  The reason bad peeps of noble birth sometimes got sent there was b/c it was a castle & therefore had accommodation suitable to their rank, & b/c it was a fortress & Roger Mortimer's one of only 2 peeps who ever escaped from it, so that tells ya how good it was at keeping peeps in if they wanted them in.  It was tradition for a new monarch to be lodged in the Tower prior to coronation at Westminster Abbey b/c this afforded a nice long procession route to get there where the common folk could oooh & ahhh at royalty. Public relations, you understand. The royal dukes stayed there, too, & called in dead Edward's council to confirm Richard's status as Lord Protector right away.

A delegation was sent to Sanctuary to try to get the queen to step out of it.  She was all um NO. This made them all think she was REALLY up to something.  Finally she was persuaded to let out the 10 yo Richard, Duke of York to go keep his bro company in the Tower whilst coronation plans were proceeding.  This is how Edward & Richard got to be known as the Princes in the Tower.  Twas only proper, tho, b/c little Richard was now little Edward's heir presumptive, & natch would have a splendid role to play in the ceremonies & stuff like that needs practicing esp when dealing w/ kidlets, so nobody thunk anything of it.  In fact, twas decided they needed so much practice it might be a good idea to push that coronation back a mo or so, so the date was changed to June-ish.

Meanwhile some intriguing stuff was going on w/ the noble peeps.  O to have been a fly on the wall for these council mtgs!  In the midst of all this prep a certain Bishop Stillington w/ either a convenient or inconvenient conscience depending on which way ya look at it, said that Edward & Elizabeth Woodville had never been legally married & therefore all their kidlets were bastards!

Matrimonial stuff was way confusing back then b/c it was governed by canon law, not civil law, & in the eyes of the Catholic Church if one had been engaged (betrothed), planned to be engaged (pre-contracted), or maybe even hooked up w/ a chick after suggesting ya might get married if she did the deed with ya, then it was a binding contract that one had to apply to the church to get out of & bring your wallet.  Now Edward was a born hound dog & if you recall rumor had it that's why he married Elizabeth in the 1st place, b/c she told him to buzz off & slapped his mitts away from her bodice.  So it wasn't inconceivable that he could've pulled the same thing on some other chick.  After all, he did have somewhere round 6-7 bastards, most of em born after he was married to the queen.  One of these, Arthur, Lord Lisle, would be a player in later reigns, but he was still a kidlet atm.

Alas, the complaisant widow in question, Eleanor Butler, had gone into a convent & demised somewhere btwn the birth of little Edward & little Richard, so she wasn't around to say yea or nay.  But the bishop swore up & down that he'd secretly married Eleanor to Edward b4 the seecrud marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, & since Eleanor hadn't popped her cork until a good half dozen yrs after Elizabeth & Edward were wed, then so sorry, bastard brats all around. And with the protracted minorities of Henry VI & Richard II & all the trouble they caused, peeps weren't fussed about putting up w/ another kiddie king. They could see how the Scots loved a good regency & what a mess it always was for the blue peeps.  So the council all said hmmm, b/c if little Edward & Richard were bastardized, then the next peep in line for the throne was Richard of Gloucester, who was a grownup & a mighty warrior & had been running half the kingdom for Edward anyway.  Who knows what would've happened if Edmund of Rutland had been a little faster in sidestepping Clifford's sword, huh?

There was one voice of dissension to this notion. Edward's buddy in debauchery, William, Lord Hastings, who'd wasted no time after the king's demise in hooking up w/ Jane Shore, Edward's last in a long line of GFs, said um NO.  That Edward was a hound dog to the end.  Richard didn't like the queen, but he was supposedly faithful to his own wife, & devoutly religious, & so he didn't approve of such hijinks, & the whole sharing GFs thing was just a yuck factor to him.  So there was words in council, & Hastings found himself arrested & about to go down in history as the very 1st peep to actually be executed on Tower Green.  I toldja it wasn't a bad place yet.

So twas proclaimed to the peeps of London that the late king was a bad boy who'd do anything to hook up w/ a wench & therefore had no legit kidlets & therefore his bro Richard was going to be in charge from now on.  Anne Neville came down from Middleham w/ their son (tiresomely) Edward & there was a splendid coronation.

But you may be saying, what about those 2 Princes in the Tower?

What, indeed.....

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