As the research librarian for the American branch of the Richard III Society (yes, this is rather an anomalous position for a non-Ricardian to be in, sort of like a liberal in the Republican party), I just bought a shiny new book by Peter Hancock entitled Richard III and the Murder in the Tower. After inhaling that nice new book smell, I flipped to the parts about Henry Buckingham, and the first thing I saw was, “Buckingham most probably resented the Woodvilles because at the age of twelve in 1466, he had been forced to mary the queen’s sister, Catherine Woodville, who was twice his age. Obviously, Buckingham had bided his time, and now saw the present situation as an opportunity to revenge himself upon his erstwhile oppressors.”
People! First, Buckingham was born on September 4, 1455, so he was not 12 in 1466. Second, the description of Elizabeth Woodville’s May 1465 coronation names Katherine as the younger Duchess of Buckingham, so Buckingham was most likely married to Katherine before May 1465, not in 1466. Third–and this is a big third–Katherine Woodville was not twice Buckingham’s age! She was in fact probably only about seven when she married the nine-year-old Buckingham in 1465.
Hancock, like every other Ricardian who claims that poor little Buckingham was forced by the Evil, Nasty Woodvilles to marry a grown woman twice his age, doesn’t cite a source for his claim, which is contradicted by every bit of primary source evidence available–a postmortem inquisition for Katherine’s brother Richard, which puts Katherine’s birthdate at around 1458; the description of Elizabeth Woodville’s coronation, where Buckingham and Katherine are described as being toted around on squires’ shoulders; and Elizabeth Woodville’s household records, which show that Katherine was being raised in the queen’s household. A birthdate of 1458 is also consistent with an old pedigree which states that Katherine was the youngest of the Woodville siblings and with the birthdate of Katherine’s eldest son, who was born on February 3, 1478.
Is it really too much, she asked forlornly, to ask nonfiction writers to do a little research before writing about the Woodvilles?