Monday, 27 July 2009

Anne Neville's ancestry - Waltheof

Stephen Lark has kindly sent me this interesting link about Waltheof. Among other things it gives six generations of descent from him and it's clear how he linked to Anne Neville by at least one route.

One area of Anne's ancestry that the coat of arms ignore is that of her descent from the House of York. This gave her some quite remarkable ancestors, including El Cid! I suppose it's proof that even the most complex of quarterings cannot convey everything.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

How was Warwick related to the Woodvilles?

Does anyone know how Warwick was related to the Woodvilles/Wydevilles? Until a couple of days ago I'd have said he wasn't - simple. But then I noticed in Richard III A Medieval Kingship (ed. John Gillingham) the following useful analysis of Anne Neville's arms - which of course were the same as her sister's.

The following families are represented:

1. Sir Guy (This is Guy of Warwick, not Guy of Gisburn.)
2. Rohand (No idea)
3. Gwayr (No idea)
4. Newburgh (Ancestors of the Beauchamps, think.)
5. FitzPiers (Sound like a Norman family but can't say I've heard of them.)
6. Thony (Sometimes spelt TONY or TOENI. Quite famous earlier on I think. [edit] Stephen Lark tells me they were the Staffords, before the Staffords became the Staffords if you see what I mean.)
7. Beauchamp (Famous as earls of Warwick)
8. Colobrand's Head (Colobrand? Sounds like a drink.)
9. Fitzjohn
1o. Mauduit
11. Abitot
12. Waltheof (Definitely heard of him. Saxon hero married to Judith, right?)
13. Montagu (Salisbury bunch)
14. Monthermas. (Sounds like a festival of the church. Do they mean Monthemer? Or whatever the guy was called who got off with Joan of Acre.)
15. Neville (Well yes, we certainly know about them.)
16. Beauchamp (ancient) - bit repetitive, but I suppose it emphasises the Beauchamps.
17. Aeneas (The Greek guy? He had a coat of arms? Cooool!)
18. Balliol (As in Scotland. Probably via the Despensers if I recall aright.)
19. Eldol
20. FitzHamon (Definitely via the Despensers)
21. Consul (As above)
22. Clare (Yep, Despensers again, though probably by other routes too. Those Clares got about)
23. Burghersh. (Despenser lot again. Thomas D's mother, actually.)
24. WYDEVILLE - which is the posh way of spelling 'Woodville.' How did they get in among this lot?
25. Despenser (Obviously)
26. Weyland (Another Despenser input.)

So now we know what Anne did with her youth - embroidering that little lot onto all the cushion covers must have taken hours. You know dear a family tree program would have been much more useful...

But seriously, does anyone know how the Wydeville/Woodville family were related to Warwick? Because it looks as if they must have been.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The De la Poles

Stephen Lark has kindly pointed out to me that it is believed Richard de la Pole (Richard Duke of York's grandson) had a daughter in France, Marguerite, who has living descendants to this day, members of the French nobility. Her earlier descendants included the famous political philosopher de Montesquieu and the Comte de Frontenac who was a C17 Governor of Canada.

Stephen also mentioned that Richard's brother, William de la Pole may have been alive as late as 1539/40 as a prisoner in the Tower.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Children of Richard Duke of York

After so much about the political, I think it's high time for a post of the personal, so here are the children of Richard Duke of York and his wife Cecily Neville:

1. Anne, who married the Duke of Exeter. Exeter was York's ward but nevertheless a substantial dowry was paid. Nonetheless the marriage was not a success at either a political or personal level. Exeter became one of York's worst enemies (though he was pretty much the enemy of everyone) and eventually Anne divorced him and married Sir Thomas St.Leger. Exeter conveniently fell overboard on the way back from the French expedition of 1475, having spent several previous years in the Tower. Sir Thomas St. Leger was executed by Richard III.

2. Henry (died young).

3. Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).

4. Edmund, Earl of Rutland. Killed at Wakefield 1460.

5. Elizabeth, who married John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk. This marriage forged an alliance with the de la Pole clan, previously enemies of York. Suffolk was a political nonentity but there were numerous children. The males in particular had a hard time under the Tudors and were eventually wiped out.

6. Margaret, who married Charles Duke of Burgundy. No children, but Duchess Margaret was a relatively major player in European politics.

7. William (died young)

8. John (died young)

9. George, Duke of Clarence. Executed/judicially murdered 1478.

10. Thomas (died young)

11. Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III).

12. Ursula (died young.)

One interesting and unexplained feature of the Yorks' marriage is the several years** that passed before Anne was born. Clearly the problem was not one of fertility as they eventually had 12 children! It may be that York's absence at the French wars is part of the answer but it's not a complete one as Cecily was often there with him. (For example Edward and Edmund were born in Normandy.)

** Marriage 'before October 1429' (source P A Johnson) Anne's birth 1439.

One internet source states there was another daughter Joan b 1438, but this child is not recorded in the famous ballad about York's offspring printed in Caroline Halstead's Richard III.

The Wiki article on Cecily Neville says that the couple were not 'officially married' (whatever that means) until 1437. I'm inclined to doubt this.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Richard Duke of York and Henry VI

In the early years of Henry VI's reign there is nothing to suggest that Richard, Duke of York was anything but a loyal subject, or that anyone thought otherwise. So what changed?

In the first part of the reign English politics were dominated by the King's uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and great-uncle, Cardinal Beaufort. (These two heading - in simplistic terms - the 'war' and 'peace' parties respectively). Both treated York with due respect and he performed whatever duties he was allocated without any obvious fuss.

One factor leading to York's disillusionment with the regime was undoubtedly the increasingly chaotic financial situation. This impacted on him indirectly - by limiting the resources available to him as a commander in France - and directly by increasing the government's debt to him in respect of war wages and other fees to an insupportable degree. Even a landowner as rich as York could only tolerate this for so long. Eventually he was forced to pawn his jewels and even parts of his estates to make his books balance.

The second factor was the replacement of Gloucester and Beaufort in the King's counsels by the like of William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. These men favoured peace with France, whereas York inclined more to the war party. More importantly, they effectively excluded York from the King's counsels and got their grubby hands on what little money and patronage was available.

Politics is always ultimately a dispute between those with power and those without it. It's also quite common for the 'outs' to claim that the 'ins' are corrupt and incompetent. In the cases of Suffolk and Somerset there was perhaps more truth attached to this claim than is usual. (Though it would have taken remarkable leadership to square the financial and military circles we are talking about.)

The separation of York from the inner circle of power led to a growing, mutual distrust. Who 'started' this is hard to discern. York would certainly have argued that Suffolk, Somerset, and later Queen Margaret had the King's ear and told him lies about York's intentions, thus alienating Henry from his loyal cousin. On the other hand, Suffolk, Somerset and the Queen did
have reason to be wary of York. He was the obvious (if not only) 'alternative' government and, given the detail of his family tree, might even be put forward as an alternative sovereign. The country was not stable, and those in power must have feared a 'revolutionary' situation arising, after the example of the falls of Edward II and Richard II.

York's claim to the throne (in the event of Henry's death) had been talked about in Parliament, a destabilising factor in itself. York's readiness to take up arms in 1452, and then again in 1455, demonstrated that the doubts and fears about his loyalty were not completely groundless. Though York was successful in 1455 (mainly thanks to the Nevilles) it's fair to say that the bulk of the nobility remained loyal to Henry despite the ineptitude of his government.

York's justification - that he took up arms only because he had failed to get a hearing by 'constitutional' means - is also not unreasonable. As the leading peer he had, in medieval terms, the right to be one of the King's leading advisers. Henry's decision to exclude him from this role, and his undue preference for the likes of Suffolk and Somerset, was bound to lead to trouble.