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Her Highness, the Traitor~

myths of margaret






1. Margaret of Anjou, riding at the head of a horde of crazed, drunken soldiers, sacked the town of Ludlow before being confronted by the heroic Cecily, Duchess of York.

A number of novels set during the Wars of the Roses have a scene where Margaret of Anjou's troops sack the town of Ludlow, usually resulting in carnage that makes the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre look like a minor street brawl. To top things off, few novelists can resist having the courageous Cecily, Duchess of York, bravely taking her stand at the town's market cross, come face-to-face with the vengeance-crazed, merciless Margaret of Anjou. After all, it's a perfect opportunity for an encounter between Good (Cecily, need you ask?) and Evil (Margaret, natch). Throw in a callow young George, Duke of Clarence and a saintly, frail little Richard, Duke of Gloucester, trembling at Cecily's side, and the chapter practically writes itself.

There's no doubt that Henry VI's troops did loot and pillage, and probably rape as well, after the Yorkist leaders fled from Ludford Bridge in 1459. Gregory's Chronicle reports:

The mysrewle of the kyngys galentys at Ludlowe, whenn they hadde drokyn i-nowe of wyne that was in tavernys and in othyr placys, they fulle ungoodely smote owte the heddys of the pypys and hoggys hedys of wyne, that men wente wete-schode in wyne, and thenn they robbyd the towne, and bare a-waye beddynge, clothe, and othyr stuffe, and defoulyd many wymmen.

[It's interesting that the poor women are mentioned here almost as an afterthought to the bedding and clothes. But I digress.]

Hearne's Fragment tells us:

And in the year of our Lord 1459, and then being the 38th year of King Harry the 6th, the Duke of York fled from Ludlow into Ireland. And this Edward, with the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, departed into Devonshire, and from thence into Guernsey, and so to Calais, &c. After the which departing King Harry rode into Ludlow, and spoiled the Town and Castle, where-at he found the Duchess of York with her two young sons (then) children, the one of thirteen years old, and the other of ten years old: the which Duchess King Harry sent to her sister Anne Duchess of Buckingham.

Benet's Chronicle, as translated in Elizabeth Hallam's The Wars of the Roses, simply reports that after the Duke of York and his companions fled, "The king ransacked all of their property between Worcester and Ludlow."

The English Chronicle mentions Ludlow only after discussing the Parliament that followed the battle:

Thanne was a parlement holden at Couentre, and they that were chosenne knyghtes of the shyres, and other that had interessc in the parlement, were nat dyfferent but chosen a denominacione of thaym that were enemyes to the forseyde lordes so beyng oute of the reame. In the whiche parlement, the sayde duk of York and the iij. erles and other, whos names shalle be rehersed afterward, withoute any answere, as traytours and rebelles to the kyng were atteynt of treson, and theyre goodes, lordshyppys and possessyons escheted in to the kynges hande, and they and theyre heyres dysheryted vn to the ixthe degre. And by the kynges commissione in euery cyte, burghe, and toune cryed opynly and proclamed as for rebelles and traytoures; and theyre tenauntes and there men spoyled of theyre goodes, maymed, bete, and slayne withoute cny pyte; the toune of Ludlow, longyng thanne to the duk of York, was robbed to the bare walles, and the noble duches of York vnmanly and cruelly was entreted and spoyled.

Abbot Whethamstede, with uncharacteristic brevity, simply reports (writing in Latin) that the rich town and the surrounding area were robbed and sacked.

It's plain from all of these accounts, as I said, that Ludlow did suffer at the hands of the Lancastrians after the rout at Ludford Bridge. (It wasn't the first town to suffer in this manner during the Wars of the Roses, however. According to Whehamstede and other sources, St. Albans was looted by the victorious Duke of York's men after the first battle there in 1455, but the same novelists and historians who wax horrific about the sack of Ludlow breezily pass by the Yorkist misdeeds at St. Albans.) What's also plain, however, is that not a single source states that Margaret of Anjou was present at Ludlow, much less has her cackling with glee at the Duchess of York and her terrified youngsters. As none of these sources were friendly to Margaret, it's hard to believe that they would have failed to mention her malevolent presence at Ludlow. Most likely she had stayed behind at a safe place with her son while her husband and his army made their way to Ludford Bridge.

As for Cecily, Duchess of York, it does seem from Hearne's Fragment, quoted above, that she and her two younger sons (whose ages the chronicler gets wrong) were at Ludlow. The English Chronicle also speaks of her being "entreated and spoiled," though whether this refers to the duchess's person or her property is unclear. It seems more likely that it refers to her property, as a physical attack on the duchess and her young children would have surely provoked the fury of the pro-Yorkist chroniclers.

But was she taking a stance at the market cross? This is where Paul Murray Kendall departs into one of his historical flights of fancy. In the text of Richard the Third, he writes, "When the troops of the King stormed triumphantly into the undefended town the next morning, they found Cicely, Duchess of York, and her sons Richard and George courageously awaiting them on the steps of the market cross." Only when one reads to the end of the paragraph in which this sentence appears does one find an end note, in which Kendall cites the passage from Hearne's Fragment quoted above and explains, "It is reported that Cecily and her two boys were found in the village. Since she was a woman of spirit and was apparently trying to protect her villagers, I have conjectured that she took her stance at the market cross" [italics mine]. Kendall may not have intended to mislead his readers, but it is nonetheless the fact that many, not bothering to flip to the end note, have come away with the conviction that it is established historical fact that Cecily outfaced the Lancastrians at the market cross. In fact, pace Kendall, one can't be sure from the wording of the fragment ("spoiled the Town and Castle, where-at he found the Duchess of York") that she was even in the village; it appears more likely that Cecily was within the castle walls.

So to sum up, while there was certainly looting and pillage at Ludlow, there's no evidence that Margaret was there, and none except for a twentieth-century historian's admitted conjecture that Cecily was defiantly standing at the market cross. As Stacey Schiff so aptly says in her new biography of Cleopatra, however, "For well over two thousand years, a myth has been able to outrun and outlive a fact." Thanks to the power of fiction and fictionalized history, there may be a lot of life left in the story of Cecily and Margaret facing off at the market cross.


2. Henry VI spent the second Battle of St. Albans laughing and singing under a tree.


Following the Lancastrian victory on February 17, 1461, at the second Battle of St. Albans, Margaret of Anjou was reunited with her husband, Henry VI, who had been in Yorkist hands and who had accompanied the Earl of Warwick to the encounter with Margaret's forces.

But what was Henry VI doing during the battle? Paul Murray Kendall, for one, leaves the matter in no doubt: "King Henry, whom Warwick had taken with him, was found under a tree laughing and talking to himself" (Kendall, Richard the Third). This portrait, implying a Henry who was clearly demented, has a great deal of appeal for historians like Kendall who are hostile toward Margaret; it shows that Margaret was willing to place England in the hands of a madman to secure her own power.

Contemporary descriptions of the battle, however, are by no means united in their description of Henry's behavior during the battle--indeed, not a single contemporary English source that I have seen describes Henry as laughing and talking to himself during the battle. Here are all of the contemporary or near-contemporary accounts that I know of:

An English Chronicle, edited by John Silvester Davies:

The xij. day of Feuerer, the Thurseday, kyng Harry with his lordes, that ys to say, the duk of Norfolk, and Suffolk, the erles of Warrewyk and of Arundelle, the lorde Bonevyle and other, went oute of Londoun, and came with thayre peple to the toune of Seynt Albonys, nat knowyng that the peple of the North was so nyghe. And whanne the kyng herde that they were so nyghe hym, he went oute and took hys felde besyde a lytelle towne called Sandryge, nat fer fro Seynt Albonys, in a place called No-mannes land, and there he stoode and sawe his peple slayne on bothe sydes. And at the laste, thorow the witbdrawyng of the Kentisshmen with thayre capteyne, called Lovelace, that was in the vaunt-warde,—the whych Lovelace fauored the Northe party, for as moche as he was take by the Northurnmen at Wakefeld whan the duk of York was slayne, and made to theym an othe for to saue his lyfe, that he wold neuer be agayns theym,—and also be vndysposycion of the peple of the kynges syde, that wold nat be guyded ne gouerned by theyre capteyns, kyng Harryes part loste the feeld. The lordes that were wyth the kyng seyng thus, withdrowe theym, and went theyre wey.

Whan the kyng sawe his peple dysparbeled and the feeld broke, he went to his quene Margarete that came wyth the Northurmen, and hyr sone Edward; for thay of the North sayde that thay came for to restore the kyng to the quene his wyfe, and for to delyuer hym owte of pryson; forasmeche as seth the batayle of Northampton he had be vnder the rewle and gouernaunce of the erles of Warrewyk and Salesbury, and of other.

Gregory's Chronicle:

And in the myddys of the batayle Kynge Harry wente unto hys Quene and for-soke alle hys lordys, ande truste better to hyr party thenne unto hys owne lordys.

Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whethamstede (thanks to Lesley Boatright for the translation out of the Latin):

When they saw this, the (senior and sensible) commanders in the field under the king understood that the king hmself had neither the spirit nor the courage to console or inspire his people – indeed, he could not put a good face on it or find words – but rather in his heart inclined to the reverse. They withdrew to the queen, his wife, hoping in future to have a better day with the enemy, by the grace of the God who instructs hands for battle and fingers for war.

When they had withdrawn, and all the people [= army] had slid away as in flight, there came to the lord king a certain esquire, learned in the law and eloquent enough, [393] whose name was Thomas Hoo. He suggested to him that he should he should look at and consider the situation in which he now stood: how he was alone, without commanders, without soldiers, without standard-bearers, or any other men-at-arms who should have been at his side for ensuring the safe and secure protection of his body. He should send a suitable man to the army of the Northerners and to the leaders who were in command of them, to tell them that, not only for the said reason, but also because he well knew that they wished him well and had banded together simply for his sake and had come in their strength to these parts, he was ready and prepared to come to them and to remain with them in the same way as he had formerly remained under the command of the Southern lords.

And so, after giving this advice, the said esquire was sent to the army of the Northerners. When he came there, and had revealed the king’s will to the earl of Northumberland, to whom he was very well known, he brought back certain lords with him, and they escorted the king first to the tent nearest the royal castle – that is, the tent of Lord de Clifford. Then they went to fetch the queen and the prince and conducted them both at once into his presence.

When he saw them, he was overjoyed in his inmost heart, just as a betrothed man rejoices over his betrothed, or a father over his son who after he had “perished” was found again and brought again into his presence. He embraced them in his arms, kissing them, and exclaimed at once, “May the Lord God be blessed, who has done such great things in the people of the North that it was enough to restore to us again my wife wrenched away for a time, to drive off all the enemy they met in this, and happily to triumph over the enemy!”

The Crowland Chronicle Continuations:

The northerners then invaded the South and reached St. Albans. The earl of Warwick, who had brought along King Henry as if to make him fight against his wife and son, was put to flight but the northerners failed to follow up their victory and took the king and queen back to the North.

Annales Rerum Anglicarum (from English Historical Documents, Vol. IV, ed. by A. R. Myers)

On Shrove Tuesday . . . took place the battle of St. Albans, where the Duke of Norfolk and the Earls of Warwick and Arundel and many others fled from the field. And King Henry was captured on the field along with Lord Montagu, his chamberlain. And the prince came to the king in the field, where the king, his father, dubbed him knight.

John Benet, from The Wars of the Roses, ed. by Elizabeth Hallam:

The king went out against them, about a mile from the eastern quarter of St. Albans, where the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Warwick and the earl of Arundel fled. They abandoned the king, who was then captured by the other lords.

Calendar of State Papers, Milan, George Neville writing to Francesco Coppino, Bishop of Terni, Apostolic Legate in Flanders, April 7, 1461:

On the 15th of February, as I think your lordship will have learned from others, we had an action with the enemy to our loss, near St. Albans, the details of which would be equally painful and lengthy to narrate, and everyone who heard of it must have been much astonished. However, I think it right to give you a summary account of this battle. The Lord Barni, brother of my lord of Canterbury, together with my brother Lord Montacute and Sir Thomas Carletone, knight, were taken and carried away to York. The strenuous cavalier, Lord de Bonavilla, with the spirited and valiant knight Sir Thomas Bryel were taken and beheaded. I forbear to name the other persons of lower rank who perished; they say that some 3,000 fell on one side and the other; but we, being fortunate, amid so many misfortunes, escaped and lost that puppet of a king (quel idolo del Re) as that statue of a king turned his face towards the North, pillaging in the country, and at length the wife, with her husband, arrived at York, glorying in their very bloody victory.

Calendar of State Papers, Venice, George Nevill, Bishop of Exeter, Chancellor of England, to Francesco Coppini, Bishop of Teramo, in Flanders, April 7, 1461:

As something new has occurred here since your departure, I will write briefly about these events, as learnt by letters, from the lips of messengers, or from common report; although they are much incumbered and perplexed with many important matters.

On the 13th kalends of March (17th February) we fought unsuccessfully near St. Alban's, the details of which action would be too long to narrate, but I think it right to give a summary of the battle. Lord Berners (John Bourchier), brother of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Bourchier), with my brother Lord Montagu (John Nevill) and Sir Thomas Charleton, Knight, were captured and taken as far as York. Lord de Bonneville and Sir Thomas Kiryel were taken and beheaded, and many of inferior station on our side were destroyed. The loss on both sides amounts to well nigh 3,000 men. We however fled, and lost that puppet of a King—fortunate assuredly in this disaster; whereupon the puppet was carried off northwards and the country ravaged; at length the woman with her consort got to York, big everywhere of their not bloodless and unquestionable victory.

The Great Chronicle of London

And the Quene & hyr party hadd the vyctory & cawsed therle of warwyk & his men to ffle, Soo that kyng henry was lafft soo smally accompanyed, he was there takyn & browgth unto the Quene his wyfe . . .

Calendar of State Papers, Milan, March 9, 1461, Prospero di Camulio, Milanese Ambassador to the Court of France, etc., to Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan.

The king was placed under a tree a mile away, where he laughed and sang, and when the defeat of the Earl of Warwick was reported, he detained upon his promise the two princes who had been left to guard him. Very soon the Duke of Somerset and the conquerors arrived to salute him, and he received them in friendly fashion and went with them to St. Albans to the queen, and on the morrow one of the two detained, upon his assurance, was beheaded and the other imprisoned.

Jehan de Waurin, Recueil des Chroniques, from English history illustrated from original sources ... 1399-1485, ed. by F. Hermia Durham.

And thus the king was taken under a great oak, where he was laughing greatly at what had occurred, and he begged those who came to him that they should do no hurt to the person of Monsieur Kyriel, which they promised ; but Lovelace, the disloyal traitor, led the king, Sir Thomas, and his son to the queen, who was right glad to meet the king.

So what do we have here? None of the English writers describes Henry as laughing and singing under a tree or as otherwise acting demented. The English Chronicle has Henry, seeing his Yorkist captors scattered, going to his wife. Gregory has Henry deserting to Margaret in the middle of the battle. Whethamsted, the abbot of St. Albans, who played host to Henry after the battle and would have been well aware of his mental state at the time, has Henry being given advice by Thomas Hoo before eventually being escorted to his wife. Crowland simply says that Henry went north after the battle. Annales Rerum Anglicarum has Henry being captured on the field and soon thereafter knighting his son. Benet also has Henry being captured by the queen's men. The Great Chronicle, a later source, has Henry being brought to Margaret. George Neville, Warwick's brother, refers to Henry contemptuously as a puppet but makes no reference to Henry's conduct during the battle.

It is only when we get to Prospero di Camulio, writing from France, and to Jehan de Waurin, a Burgundian chronicler, that the story of Henry laughing and singing beneath the oak tree appears. It's possible, of course, that these two sources are accurately reporting Henry's conduct and that all of the English sources somehow left out this detail, but it seems unlikely, especially given the fact that none of the English sources quoted are sympathetic toward the Lancastrians and surely at least in some cases would have relished recounting a story that showed their king in such a pathetic state.

At any rate, the fact that the laughing-under-a-tree story is reported by only two foreign sources should have made Kendall hesitate before reporting it as an undisputed fact. It didn't, of course, and like so many other dubious stories from the time, it has acquired respectability and staying power thanks to being thoughtlessly regurgitated in popular nonfiction and in historical fiction.


3. Margaret of Anjou was romantically involved with one or more of several specified men.


Leaving aside the question of the paternity of Edward of Lancaster (there's no proof that anyone other than Henry VI was the boy's father), what of the various men that popular historians have romantically linked with Margaret of Anjou?

There were indeed contemporary rumors that Edward of Lancaster was a bastard and that Margaret was unfaithful to her husband--a ballad written by a Yorkist sympathizer refers to "fals heryres fostered," for instance, and Pope Pius II quoted Warwick as saying that Margaret and "those who defile the king's chamber" had taken over the government. The contemporary gossips, however, were reticent about naming names; modern writers have been less so.

Bertram Fields, for instance, in his book Royal Blood, a defense of Richard III, baldly asserts that Margaret "had been known for years to have dallied with her favorites, notably the dukes of Suffolk and Somerset." Like too many admirers of Richard III, Fields, while bemoaning the various myths that have grown up around that king, is quite content to perpetuate myths about other historical figures. The claim that Margaret and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, were lovers was not made until the sixteenth century, and even then only in a throwaway remark by the chronicler Edward Hall that Suffolk was "the queen's darling." It was Shakespeare, not contemporaries of Margaret and Suffolk, who gave us the story of a full-blown love affair between Suffolk and Margaret.

As for the Duke of Somerset, there were three such dukes associated with Margaret: Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (died 1455) and his sons Henry (died 1464) and Edmund (died 1471). Though Paul Murray Kendall and others have stated that the elder Edmund was suspected of fathering Margaret's child, I have yet to find any contemporary English source alleging that he and Margaret were loversalthough in his youth, Edmund was linked romantically with the widowed Catherine of Valois, Henry V's queen. Hall states that when Somerset was arrested in 1453, he was in Margaret's great chamber; assuming that this noncontemporary account is true, it's notable that Somerset was not said to have been in Margaret's bedchamber. Margaret did grant the elder Somerset an annuity of 100 marks in 1451. It is recorded as having been paid at Michaelmas 1453, at which time it was noted that it was being paid for past and future services as well as "for the great good will and kindness that he will show [her] in her urgent affairs." Helen Maurer has suggested that the "urgent affairs" referred to Henry's recent mental breakdown, which would make sense. There is no reason, however, to assume that the annuity was prompted by a love affair.

The elder Edmund was killed at St. Albans in 1455; his eldest son, Henry, took up the family dukedom and the Lancastrian cause. Henry Beaufort is linked suggestively with Margaret in one contemporary rumor: on March 15, 1461, Prospero di Camulio, Milanese Ambassador in France, wrote from Brussels to Cicho Symonete, Secretary to the Duke of Milan: "They say here that the Queen of England, after the king had abdicated in favour of his son, gave the king poison. At least he has known how to die, if he did not know what to do else. It is said that the queen will unite with the Duke of Somerset. However these are rumours in which I do not repose much confidence." Henry VI, of course, had not abdicated in favor of his son, nor had he been poisoned. The rumor that Margaret intended to "unite" with Somerset, then, should inspire no more confidence in us than it did in Camulio. I do, however, confess to finding it plausible that this Somerset could have been Margaret's loverhe was young, handsome, and charismatic and had done her the great service of defeating the Duke of York at Wakefieldbut there is no evidence that he actually did play such a role in Margaret's life.

Henry Beaufort was executed at Hexham in 1464. (Being a Beaufort during this period did not auger well for one's future.) Late in that year, his younger brothers, Edmund and John, joined Margaret of Anjou in exile in France. There is no evidence that either of these men, or any of the other men who shared Margaret's exile, were romantically involved with her. Indeed, the younger Beauforts and the Duke of Exeter, who was also exiled abroad, spent most of their exile in the service of the Duke of Burgundy, far away from Koeur Castle in France, where Margaret was lodged.

Another man who occasionally is named by modern writers as Margaret's lover (and a possible father of Edward of Lancaster) is James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire; Kendall, for instance, claims that he was rumored to be the prince's father, though he doesn't cite a source for his assertion. Wiltshire, who was executed after the Battle of Towton, was the royal treasurer of the Lancastrian government and was particularly disliked by the Yorkists, but there is nothing to indicate that he was unusually close to Margaret. I have found no contemporary allegation that he and Margaret were lovers.

Philippe Erlanger, a French writer who wrote a very fanciful biography of Margaret, patriotically hinted that Pierre de Breze, Seneschal of Normandy, was Margaret's lover, and he even attributed Henry Beaufort's brief defection to Edward IV as having been prompted by jealousy over Margaret's intimacy with Breze. The latter, who was twenty years Margaret's senior, lent her military assistance and traveled with her in the early 1460's, but he had been closely associated with Margaret's family for decades and was likely motivated by those ties rather than any carnal passion. If Margaret was suspected of having an affair with Pierre during this time, it seems odd that Edward IV's government failed to exploit the propaganda possibilities that such a relationship presented.

Proving a negative is notoriously difficult, and it can't be shown that Margaret was not having sexual intercourse with any of these men or with anyone else besides her husband. (Contrary to one historical novelist's assertion, however, Suffolk can be positively eliminated as a possible father of Edward of Lancaster, having been murdered over three years before the boy was born.) As it hasn't been proven either, however, that Margaret was having an affair with any of these men, confident assertions like that of Fields quoted above should have no place in nonfiction unless supported by contemporary evidence.


4. Margaret bitterly resented her son's marriage to Anne Neville and was cruel to the girl.


It's true that Margaret seems to have been reluctant to make an alliance with Anne's father, the Earl of Warwick, in 1470, although Anthony Gross has discussed evidence that Sir John Fortescue, Margaret's chancellor in exile, had put out feelers for just such a partnership--and a marriage between Edward and a daughter of Warwick's--as early as 1468. The Maner and Guyding of the Earl of Warwick sets forth the posturings of both Margaret and Warwick, with Margaret complaining that she saw neither "honor nor profit" in a match between her son and Anne; she even claimed that Edward IV had offered her son a match with young Elizabeth of York! Warwick had his own grudges against Margaret to trot out: "King Henry and she by their false counsel had enterprised the destruction of him and his friends in body and in goods." In the end, though, as Michael Hicks has pointed out, while both parties had to save face before their respective followers by presenting themselves as reluctant allies, and both parties no doubt profoundly mistrusted each other, there was no better solution to their respective problems than a marriage between Prince Edward and Anne.

Paul Murray Kendall's biographies remain very popular and influential, and they have heavily colored novelists' portrayals of Anne and Edward of Lancaster. Kendall, treating Anne as a sacrificial victim to her father's ambition and Margaret's vengeance, paints a pathetic portrait of the fourteen-year-old Anne as bride-to-be: "Richard Neville could doubtless guess his daughter's bewilderment and fear. . . . Warwick could guess, too, the coldness with which Anne would be welcomed into the household of Margaret of Anjou." Authors have gleefully elaborated upon Kendall's depiction of Anne, portraying her as suffering outrage after outrage during her miserable stay with the vicious, depraved Lancastrian queen (one novel even has Margaret trying to murder the poor girl). The reality, however, is that we have no idea as to how Margaret treated Anne: she might have treated her coldly; she might have treated her warmly. (For that matter, we have only Kendall's word for it that Anne was fearful and bewildered about her marriage; for all we know, she might have been excited about a match that put in her line to be Queen of England if her father's attempt to restore Henry VI to the throne succeeded.)

It's often pointed out as proof of Margaret's hostility, however, that she forbade the couple to consummate their marriage. As the ubiquitous Kendall put it, "Queen Margaret, perhaps under pressure from Louis XI, fulfilled her bargain, but left herself as free as possible to disavow or annul [the marriage] later. In all probability, Anne never shared a marriage bed with the Prince." In fact, the evidence hardly bears out this confident assertion by Kendall, who perhaps simply liked the idea of leaving Anne unsullied by the hands of Lancaster for the benefit of her second husband, Kendall's much-admired Richard III. Although the agreement between Margaret and Warwick did indeed specify that the marriage would not be "perfected" until Warwick had gone to England and recovered it or most of it for King Henry, Warwick fulfilled his part of the bargain in October 1470 by restoring Henry VI to the throne. Meanwhile, King Louis was industriously obtaining papal dispensations for Edward and Anne to marry, and the marriage took place at Amboise on December 13, 1470. Nothing suggests that Margaret broke the agreement, and the dispensations that were procured hardly give the impression that anyone was trying to leave a loophole so that the marriage could be easily annulled. If Margaret had broken her part of the bargain by refusing to allow the couple to consummate their marriage, there were plenty of ways Warwick in England could have found out about it: through Anne's mother, through Anne's sister, through Anne herself, and most importantly, through King Louis, who wanted a happy Warwick so that the men could go to war against Burgundy. Sforza de' Bettini of Florence, an ambassador at the French court, gave no impression on December 19, 1470, that anything was amiss following the wedding ceremony: "The Queen of England and the Countess of Warwick, with the prince and princess their children, have left and returned to England, to the unspeakable satisfaction and content of his said Majesty." On the other side of the Channel, nothing indicates that Warwick was dissatisfied with Margaret's conduct in any way. All in all, then, it appears that the marriage was duly consummated, or if for some reason it wasn't, no one seemed particularly bothered about it. With her husband under Warwick's control in England and herself under Louis's control in France, Margaret was simply not in a position to alienate either Warwick or Louis by preventing the consummation of a marriage these two powerful men had desired.

Edward and Anne would not, of course, actually return to England until April 1471. In the meantime, accompanied by their mothers, in December 1470 they went to Paris, where at Louis's command they received a grand welcome from a host of VIP's and passed through streets decorated with tapestries and hangings in their honor. It's difficult to square this magnificent reception for the newlyweds in France's greatest city with Kendall's comment that the marriage of Edward and Anne was "something of a hole-and-corner affair." Nor is there anything to suggest that Margaret did anything to interfere with her daughter-in-law's enjoying center stage at these festivities.

Anne's life took a tragic turn, however, when her father was killed at the Battle of Barnet. Kendall writes that Anne "was no longer regarded as any consequence" upon her father's death, but there's no indication that Margaret, who herself was initially thrown into despair when the news of Barnet was broken to her at Cerne Abbey, was insensitive to her daughter-in-law's grief, though she naturally had other preoccupations besides comforting Anne. Anne was not left behind at Cerne Abbey, as she might have been had she been considered merely an encumbrance by the Lancastrians. Instead, she traveled with her husband and Margaret to Tewkesbury, where Prince Edward was killed. Soon afterward, Margaret was taken into custody and Anne was put in the charge of her sister's husband, the Duke of Clarence. Whatever the nature of Anne and Margaret's relationship--hostile, civil, or friendly--it most likely ended at that point, as there's no indication that the women saw each other again. Margaret died in France in 1482; less than a year after her former mother-in-law's death, Anne became Queen of England when her second husband, Richard III, took the throne.

Just as there's no evidence that Margaret was hostile toward Anne, Kendall notwithstanding, there's no evidence that she was friendly to her either: it's one of those things novelists just have to guess at, though most follow convention as dictated by Kendall and make Margaret a shrew toward her daughter-in-law (at best). There's one grant that Richard III made, however, which suggests Queen Anne might have felt some residual sympathy for her companions of 1470-71: an annuity of 20 marks to Katherine Vaux, who had served Margaret of Anjou since the 1450's and who was at her deathbed in 1482. Katherine was one of the ladies captured with Margaret and Anne after Tewkesbury. While there's no indication in the grant that it was made at Anne's request, it's very unlikely that Richard would have made it had Katherine been a party to any ill-treatment of Anne during her brief time as Princess of Wales or if Anne had had nothing but unhappy memories of her sojourn with the Lancastrians. Perhaps, then, just perhaps, this gift to a lady whom Margaret of Anjou must have cherished deeply was a belated tribute to Anne's first mother-in-law.


5.  Margaret was a vengeful, cruel woman who allowed her army to rape, pillage, and raze with impunity and who was utterly merciless to her enemies.


Margaret's cruel reputation rests far more on Yorkist propaganda than it does on historical fact. For a discussion of this, see this page.


6. Margaret was present at the Battle of Wakefield, where she taunted Richard, Duke of York before he was killed.


There are a number of myths associated with the Battle of Wakefield; an excellent book which discusses them is Helen Cox's The Battle of Wakefield Revisited. Suffice it to say that although Richard, Duke of York did indeed die at Wakefield (most likely in battle), Margaret was not present at or near the battle, but was in Scotland seeking aid for the Lancastrian cause. She later joined her victorious army in York, where the duke's head was set upon Micklegate Bar. Margaret undoubtedly rejoiced over York's deathYork, after all, had bullied her husband into disinheriting his own son in favor of York, and Margaret had every reason to fear for her husband's future in a government controlled by Yorkbut she did not have what to her might well have been the pleasure of seeing her enemy fall.






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