In the beginning of The Red Queen, young Margaret Beaufort is an extremely pious young girl, happy to have “saints’ knees” when she kneels too long at her prayers. Discuss the role of religion throughout Margaret’s life. What does she see as God’s role for her?
Margaret has always seen religion as her calling in this novel – right from the beginning she wants to enter a religious life and not marry as she is expected to do.
Margaret sees it as her role to work for the return of Henry VI and the house of Lancaster to the throne of England, and the overthrow of the Yorks.
After the death of Henry VI in 1471 Margaret sees god’s role for her as being to put her son on the throne of England and depose the Yorks.
Right until the end of her life there is plenty of evidence that Margaret was devoted to god and her religion – it doesn’t seem that she ever really wanted to marry but saw it as a necessity.
As a pious young girl, Margaret wants to live a life of greatness like her heroine, Joan of Arc. However, her fate lies elsewhere, as her mother tells her, “the time has come to put aside silly stories and silly dreams and do your duty.” (Page 26). What is Margaret’s duty and how does she respond to her mother’s words?
The duty of all girls in the 15th century was to marry and advance their families, especially heiresses, who had a lot of worth to bring to a marriage.
Margaret’s duty and destiny certainly looked good when she was married to Henry VI’s half-brother, Edmund Tudor, and birthed a Lancaster heir to the throne.
Margaret seems to have had a strong will and tried to resist her mother’s wishes, but ultimately had to comply as she didn’t really have a choice.
I think Margaret knew that she would have to do what her mother told her to, but she also hoped that her mother would give in and allow her to do what she wanted and dreamed of.
At the tender age of twelve, Margaret is married to Edmund Tudor and fourteen months later she bears him the son who will be the heir to the royal Lancaster family line. During the excruciating hours of labour, Margaret learns a painful truth about her mother and the way she views Margaret. Discuss the implications of what Margaret learns from her mother, and what is “the price of being a woman.” (63)
Margaret learns that, as a woman, she is disposable, and that her son is more important than she is (assuming it is a son of course).
Being a woman in the 15th century wasn’t easy because you were expected to marry young, make a good marriage and bear children, and that was it.
It was more likely for a man to outlive his wife, as women died in childbirth from a lack of hygiene, or issues which would be considered easy to deal with now.
I think that moment was a wake-up for Margaret because she realises that her mother will never be proud of her – she sees her as something to be used to better the family.
Whom did you find the most interesting character in The Queen’s Confidante?
For me the most interesting character was Elizabeth of York, wife and queen to Henry VII, and mother of Prince Arthur.
I thought that the way that Elizabeth was portrayed in this novel was interesting – obsessed with what happened to her brothers, the Princes in the Tower, and determined to remember them.
The historical record doesn’t tell us much about what the Tudors thought about the fate of the Princes, aside from an insinuation that Richard III killed them.
I thought that Elizabeth’s love for and obsession with finding out what happened to her brothers and her son was admirable, and it also showed a softer side to Henry VII in the end.
Who would ever expect tyrannical Henry VIII to have had such a beautiful, loving mother? Do you know of children who have turned out very differently from their parents, in personality, values, and general attitude toward life? Does a parent really have so little influence over his or her children?
I think, had Elizabeth of York still been alive after 1503, she would have had a more marked influence on the future Henry VIII – her gentler ways would have softened Henry VII’s harsher approach.
I think a lot of children turn out very differently from their parents’ – I know I am very different from both of my parents, but not necessarily in a good or a bad way, just different.
A lot of what makes the child the adult they become is the environment they grow up in – if you grow up in a loving environment you are more likely to be loving to other people.
Henry VIII was loving like his mother, but his love had a darker edge and his love turned to hate, especially with Anne Boleyn.
If Prince Arthur had lived, how might English history have turned out differently?
Without Henry VIII having taken the throne, there likely wouldn’t have been an English Reformation, no Bloody Mary or Elizabeth I, and the English royal family probably wouldn’t have descended through the Stuart line.
Some historians suggest that Katherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur were in love and that their marriage was consummated and, if this were true, Katherine may well have had a son as well as daughters, without her seven-year widowhood affecting her fertility, as has also been suggested.
England might have entered a new golden age, as Henry VII had hoped, and the Tudor dynasty might have survived, but this is one of the great what-ifs of history – we might not have had the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution or countless other events which now define English history.
How would you describe the grief Elizabeth experiences in the aftermath of her uncle, Richard III’s death? What notable details about their relationship does her grief expose? How does Richard’s untimely demise imperil the future of the York line?
It’s not just the grief of a niece for her uncle but a young girl grieving for the loss of the man she loved, and whom she hoped to marry.
Her grief exposes just how close she and Richard were and her hopes for their relationship – she really doesn’t want to marry Henry VII because she knows she can’t love him as she did Richard.
Richard’s death imperils the York line because there are no more direct male descendents not touched by treason or bastardy – Warwick is the only notable survivor of Richard Duke of York’s line, and his father was executed for treason.
Elizabeth of York is the true heir to the Yorkist line, and it is this which underpins Henry VII’s claim to the throne and his ability to hold the throne in the face of so much opposition; people believed Elizabeth was on the throne as well and so the civil wars were at an end with the two houses united.
“Henry Tudor has come to England, having spent his whole life in waiting…and now I am, like England itself, part of the spoils of war.” (3) Why does Elizabeth consider herself a war prize for Henry, rather than his sworn enemy for life? What role does politics play in the arrangement of royal marriages in fifteenth-century England?
Through his marriage to Elizabeth of York Henry VII gained the support of the Yorkists in his attempt to keep the throne – in that sense she is a prize for him, the rightful heir of the York to unite the two warring houses of York and Lancaster.
Elizabeth can’t realistically be Henry’s enemy while they are married, or the marriage would never be successful.
I don’t think Henry ever really saw Elizabeth of York as an enemy – she was a pawn in the games of others to an extent in the same way that he was.
Politics is really the sole reason for a royal marriage – it is used to create alliances and gain new titles and wealth, but Edward IV, Elizabeth’s father, was the exception and married for love, as would Elizabeth’s son, Henry VIII.
From the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl comes the haunting story of the mother of the Tudors, Elizabeth of York, wife to Henry VII. Beautiful eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville – the White Queen – the young princess Elizabeth faces a conflict of loyalties between the red rose and the white. Forced into marriage with Henry VII, she must reconcile her slowly growing love for him with her loyalty to the House of York, and choose between her mother’s rebellion and her husband’s tyranny. Then she has to meet the Pretender, whose claim denies the House of Tudor itself. [Description from Waterstones]
I’d heard mixed reviews about ‘The White Princess’ before I started reading it and, to be honest, I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not. There were parts that I really enjoyed like the furore over Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick at the end, but it took me a while to get into it.
I found the beginning slow and it felt like Gregory was adding sensational details to try and hook the reader, which I didn’t think were necessary. The character of Elizabeth Woodville really annoyed me in this one, which she didn’t in ‘The White Queen’ so I’m not sure what changed, but I loved the character of Maggie Pole and I am now quite looking forward to reading her story in ‘The King’s Curse’ by Philippa Gregory, as I think she was a very intriguing woman and her own story doesn’t seem to get told, except as part of the wider story of the Tudors. It’s about time someone wrote a fictional account of her life.
Prince Arthur was the eldest son and heir of Henry VII, King of England, and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Arthur was the symbol of the union of the warring houses of Lancaster and York. His father, Henry VII, was Lancastrian and his mother, Elizabeth of York, was a Yorkist. Arthur himself was the symbol of the union of the houses, ending the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII decided to name his firstborn son after the legendary King Arthur and he decided that Winchester was representative of Camelot. In the 16th century the location was St Swithin’s Priory in Winchester (today Winchester Cathedral Priory). He was born at around 1am on 20 September 1486, just 8 months after the marriage of his parents, meaning he was either 1 month premature, or his parents had consummated their union without waiting for an official marriage.
Prince Arthur would later marry Katherine of Aragon, but would die just short of his 16th birthday in 1502, leaving his brother to become the future Henry VIII.
Brigden, Susan, New Worlds, Lost Worlds (2000)
Gunn, Steven & Monckton, Linda, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales: Life, Death and Commemoration (2009)
Lisle, Leanda de, Tudor: the Family Story (2013)
Loades, David, The Tudors: History of a Dynasty (2012)
Weir, Alison, Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (2008)
H.M. Castor ‘VIII’ (Dorking: Templar Publishing, 2011) Paperback, ISBN 978-1-8487-74995
Genre/s: Historical Drama
Setting: Tower of London, Hampton Court and Richmond (London, England)
Characters: Henry VIII / Prince Arthur / Henry VII / Elizabeth of York / Katherine of Aragon / Cardinal Thomas Wolsey / Anne Boleyn / Jane Seymour / Mary I / Archbishop Thomas Cranmer / Thomas More / Elizabeth I / Katherine Parr / Katherine Howard / Edward VI / Anne of Cleves / Thomas Cromwell
Storyline: From Henry VIII’s childhood until his death in 1547. The novel covers Henry’s imagined childhood in some detail, looking at the death of his mother and brother, his accession to the throne, his quest to beget a son to succeed him and the relationships with his wives. There is also a spectre in the background haunting him. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘VIII’ by H.M. Castor”