Book Review – The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503


JL Laynesmith 'The Last Medieval Queens'
JL Laynesmith ‘The Last Medieval Queens’

J.L. Laynesmith, The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), Paperback, ISBN 978-0-199-27956-2

Title: The lives of the last Medieval Queens – this book looks at Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Elizabeth of York. However, I think it could also have done with looking more at Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Margaret Beaufort because, although they weren’t Queens, sometimes they almost had the same power as them, and definitely influenced the Queens themselves.

Preface: The introduction gives a broad overview of the lives of the women, and why these particular women are so fascinating. It gives a brief rundown of their lives, and how they link to each other. It also introduces other people who influenced the lives of the Queens and the monarchy, like the Earl of Warwick the “kingmaker”, the Duke of York, the Earl of Salisbury, the children of the queens, and the kings that the queens were married to. Continue reading

Potted History of the Key Players in the Wars of the Roses


Henry VI 1540 at the National Portrait Gallery
Henry VI 1540 at the National Portrait Gallery

Henry VI was the son of the warrior king Henry V, the victor of Agincourt, but he wasn’t a warrior – he was quiet and pious. Later in life it is said that he lost his wits. He was deposed by Edward IV in 1460 and murdered in the Tower in 1471. He was the last Lancastrian king, married to Margaret of Anjou, who ruled in his stead.

Margaret of Anjou from an illuminated manuscript c. 1445 by Talbot Master
Margaret of Anjou from an illuminated manuscript c. 1445 by Talbot Master

Margaret of Anjou was the wife of Henry VI. Part of the marriage agreement was that the English gave up Maine in France. She gave birth to one son, Edward, who was killed in battle in 1471, and she lost her husband the same year. She was the mother-in-law of Anne Neville, through the latter’s marriage to her son, the future wife of Richard III. Continue reading

Spotlight: Anne Neville


Name: Anne Neville / Anne Plantagenet

Title/s: Duchess of Gloucester / Princess of Wales / Queen of England

Birth / Death: 11 June 1456 – 16 March 1485

Spouse: Edward, Prince of Wales m. 13 December 1470 / King Richard III 1452-1485 m. 12 July 1472

Children: Edward 1476-1484

Parents: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick 1428-1471 & Anne Beauchamp 1426-1492

Siblings: Isabel 1451-1476

Notable Achievements: Anne Neville was a pawn of her father, the Kingmaker, and was married to the Lancastrian Prince Edward of Wales, and then to the Yorkist brother of King Edward IV, the future Richard III. She gave birth to a son who died in childhood. Continue reading

‘The Virgin Widow’ by Anne O’Brien – Discussion Questions


'Virgin Widow' by Anne O'Brien (2010).
‘Virgin Widow’ by Anne O’Brien (2010).

I recently finished reading ‘The Virgin Widow’ by Anne O’Brien, a novel about the life of Anne Neville, up until the birth of her son, Edward of Middleham. I really liked it, and look forward to reading ‘The Kingmaker’s Daughter’ by Philippa Gregory to compare. Below are the discussion questions from the back of the book. You also get lists of questions in historical books by Philippa Gregory and Emily Purdy to help you understand the story. I have posted my answers to the ones from ‘The Virgin Widow’ below, and I hope you’ll post what you think, and whether you disagree with any of my answers.

1. A wife was regarded as little more than a possession of her husband. To what extent does the life of Anne Neville and her family support this view of marriage in the fifteenth century?

Women weren’t thought to be able to think on their own and form their own views. In a lot of ways they were the property of their husband because they were expected to obey him and follow his commands and share his beliefs, even if she didn’t truly believe in them. For example, the Countess of Warwick was expected to support her husband in his rebellion and do what he commanded, though in the novel it is obvious that she doesn’t approve of him upsetting the possibilities for their daughters. The Duke of Clarence marries Isobel and immediately begins summoning her after him when he leaves a room. Isobel is expected to obey. And when he ditches Warwick in favour of his brother, Edward IV, Isobel was also expected to leave her father. Anne’s two marriages were much the same. Her marriage to Edward of Lancaster meant that she was expected to support the Lancastrian cause when she had been a Yorkist her entire life. She was under the thumb of Edward’s mother, Margaret of Anjou, who watched her to make sure she didn’t disgrace herself or disobey and contact the York brothers. She was essentially a hostage for her father’s good behaviour. In her second marriage to Richard, she is still expected to follow her husband’s example, although in the court she is allowed a bit more freedom, and she is willing to follow Richard’s example, rather than being forced. Continue reading

Review of ‘The White Queen’ on TV


Although technically not the Tudors, I am going to write my review of The White Queen which was shown on BBC1 for ten weeks. For those in America where the entire series has not been shown yet, beware of spoilers.

'The White Queen' starring Rebecca Ferguson and Max Irons on DVD.
‘The White Queen’ starring Rebecca Ferguson and Max Irons on DVD.

Synopsis:-

Episode 1 – In Love with the King

Elizabeth Woodville meets Edward IV for the first time. They marry in secret and consummate their relationship. Elizabeth’s brother, Anthony, believes that Elizabeth has been conned, until Edward announces in council that he is married to her. Elizabeth goes to the court and meets Edward’s brothers, George and Richard, and the family of the Earl of Warwick.

Episode 2 – The Price of Power

A great coronation is planned for Elizabeth to silence critics of the marriage. Warwick and George make an alliance against Edward, sealed by the marriage of Warwick’s eldest daughter, Isabel, to George. They are joined by Margaret Beaufort, who hopes that she may have her son, Henry Tudor, returned to her. Continue reading

Selection of Images from The White Queen


Selection of Images from The White Queen

'The White Queen' starring Rebecca Ferguson and Max Irons on DVD.
‘The White Queen’ starring Rebecca Ferguson and Max Irons on DVD.

I have posted a selection of images from The White Queen television series over on my Facebook page, so go take a look.

BEWARE: For those in America, the images I’ve uploaded do contain images from all 10 episodes, most of which have not been aired in the US yet. It’s up to you whether or not to look …

UPDATE: English Monarchs and When They Ruled


This post is an update on a previous post. Instead of just listing the monarchs and consorts and when they ruled I have also listed the legitimate children of each union and their title.

William I (1066 – 1087) … Consort – Matilda of Flanders

Children – Robert, Duke of Normandy d. 1134

Richard d. 1075

William II d. 1100

Henry I d. 1135

Adelaide d. 1113

Cecily d. 1127

Matilda d. 1086

Constance, Duchess of Brittany d. 1090 Continue reading

English Monarchs and When They Ruled over England


This is a post which I compiled last year: it includes the dates and consorts of all English and British monarchs. I was intending to also list children but haven’t yet got around to it. I’ll update the post at a later time.

(Becomes Great Britain under the reign of Queen Anne 1702 – 1714)

(Becomes United Kingdom under the reign of George III 1760 – 1820)

William I (1066 – 1087) … Consort – Matilda of Flanders

William II (1087 – 1100) … Consort – None

Henry I (1100 – 1135) … Consort – Matilda of Scotland / Adeliza of Louvain

Stephen (1135 – 1141) … Consort – Matilda of Boulogne

Empress Matilda (1141) … Consort – Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor / Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou

Henry II (1154 – 1189) … Consort – Eleanor of Aquitaine Continue reading

Tudor-Related Books


So I’ve put together a list of all of the Tudor and Wars of the Roses related books I want. The ones scored through are the ones I’ve already got or read. Any opinions on any of them, or are any of them better than others? Any opinions would be greatly appreciated as I don’t think it’s sensible to splurge and buy them all at once!

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Foundation’ (2011)

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘London: the Biography’ (2001)

Ackroyd, Peter, ‘Tudors’ (2012)

'Anne Boleyn: Queen of Controversy' by Lacey Baldwin Smith (2013).
‘Anne Boleyn: Queen of Controversy’ by Lacey Baldwin Smith (2013).

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Anne Boleyn’ (2013)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Catherine Howard’ (2010)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Henry VIII’ (2012)

Baldwin Smith, Lacey, ‘Treason in Tudor England: Politics and Paranoia’ (2006)

Bernard, George W., ‘Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions’ (2010)

Bernard, George W., ‘The King’s Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church’ (2007) Continue reading