Did John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset Commit Suicide?

800px-GarterPlateJohnBeaufort.jpg

On May 27, 1444 an Englishman named John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset died at the age of 40. Ever since then, the question has been raised whether or not his death was a suicide. While it’s impossible to answer the question in complete confidence, it’s significant that the notion was initially floated by contemporaries and the events leading up to it played a considerable role in the political ecosystem leading up to the Wars of the Roses.

Continue reading “Did John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset Commit Suicide?”

His “Favorite” Wife: Jane Seymour

hans_holbein_jane_seymour_canvas_print_24.jpg

Today in 1536 Henry VIII married Jane Seymour. It was the third wedding ceremony in which he stood as bridegroom, and yet if you had asked him he would have told you she was his first true wife. His first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, had been false – Katherine, the widow of his brother who lied about her virginity and Anne, an adulterous traitor who might also have been a witch. Thus it was that at the age of 45 Henry was finally legally wed in a “true” union.

Continue reading “His “Favorite” Wife: Jane Seymour”

The White Princess Recap: You Are All I Have Now

5ba24032-a715-4c16-9cf3-82e17ba06185.jpeg

Well, that answers the Katherine Woodville question. Yes, she comes up, but about two years too late as a means for Lizzie to hurt her mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort. Even so, the series is coming together in its narrative arc – primarily by playing up what about it is actually compelling. The evolution of Lizzie from York to Tudor, and what the actual ramifications were for a young woman to marry her enemy, have his children and realize the wishes of her blood family would come at the cost of her new existence.

Continue reading “The White Princess Recap: You Are All I Have Now”

Ernest & Frederica: The “Sinister” Cumberlands

800px-Knight_of_the_Order_of_St_Patrick (1).jpg

Ernest, Duke of Cumberland had an inauspicious recent showing in the PBS series Victoria, but one that actually illustrates a few reputational issues (shall we say?) during his lifetime. Indeed, for all that Queen Victoria’s uncle may seem like a rather dry case study, Ernest’s life, and that of his wife, Frederica, was consistently marked by scandal, not the least of which were rumors of violence (read: murder).

Continue reading “Ernest & Frederica: The “Sinister” Cumberlands”

William on the Cover of British GQ

810 (1).jpg

A month after the Heads Together push leading up to the London Marathon, the Duke of Cambridge has debuted on the cover of British GQ with an accompanying interview in which he discusses why mental health issues are important to him. A black and white photo of him with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, and their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is also included. Most critically, the real star of the family has his moment in the spotlight: Lupo, the cocker spaniel.

Continue reading “William on the Cover of British GQ”

Victoria, Albert & That Newlywed Life

young-family-in-love.jpg

A few months ago we took a look at the courtship, engagement and wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and so today we’re taking a closer look at their first three years of marriage. In short, they were dramatic, surprisingly so given the domestic bliss for which they would later be known, and for which Victoria spent several decades mourning after Albert’s premature death.

But the Victoria who married Albert in 1840 was not the Victoria who was left a widow in 1861 and it took the couple a few years to establish what their dynamic would be. More specifically, what were their roles in public versus private and to what extent was Albert meant to bow to the will of a wife who outranked him?

Continue reading “Victoria, Albert & That Newlywed Life”

The White Princess Recap: I Don’t Think I Should Like to Be Queen; The Clothes Are Too Ugly

thewhiteprincess-3.png

You know, I sat down to write this with the goal of being positive, calling out what the show is doing well since I’ve already outlined what isn’t working for me. But then I saw this episode and that’s over now. The first half is essentially a couple scenes of casserole in which every notable character is thrown around the same place to make it interesting. I have no idea if this comes from the book or is from the show, but let’s start with the basics.

Continue reading “The White Princess Recap: I Don’t Think I Should Like to Be Queen; The Clothes Are Too Ugly”

Blanche: The Woman Behind the House of Lancaster

Tomb_of_John_of_Gaunt_and_Blanche_of_Lancaster.jpg

In the usurpation of Richard II’s throne in 1399 and the establishment of the House of Lancaster, much credit is given to Henry IV (obviously) and his father, John of Gaunt. But it’s worth recognizing that without the wealth and inheritance of Blanche of Lancaster, neither would have been as well-positioned to challenge their Plantagenet cousins.

Blanche was born in March 1347 to Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster and Isabel de Beaumont. She was the youngest of two daughters, her elder sister, Maud, having been born in 1339. Given the gap between the two girls’ birth and the lack of subsequent children, including a male heir, it’s clear that the couple suffered from fertility issues, a situation that led to their daughters growing up to be extremely desirable heiresses on the English marriage market.

Continue reading “Blanche: The Woman Behind the House of Lancaster”

The White Princess Recap: Your Moves Are Far Too Obvious

1280x720-WDd.jpg

Okay, round two, here we go. The episode opens with Lizzie being pretty creepy, smiling insipidly every time Henry speaks and generally trying to prove to him that she’s a loyal and loving wife. And I guess it works? But she starts to look borderline crazy and I think there’s a lesson in here for all the men that like to tell women to smile. Don’t. It doesn’t look right.

Continue reading “The White Princess Recap: Your Moves Are Far Too Obvious”