Margaret Beaufort & Her Four Husbands

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Margaret Beaufort is arguably the great winner of the Wars of the Roses. Certainly she is one of the few to have lived through the war in its entirety and, as such, became the matriarch of the House of the Tudor. Mother to Henry VII, she is an ancestor to every English/British monarch since Henry VIII (as well as Scotland’s James V and Mary Stuart). But though she existed in the same world as Marguerite of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Neville, she is rarely seen as exciting as them – she never wore a crown and by the time she held substantial power, she was a woman in 50s. Instead, she is usually depicted as the mother-in-law from hell, a meddler and a jarring mix of pious and power-hungry.

To some, she is even a contender as the true killer of the Princes of the Tower.

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The Last Plantagenet: Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

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The life of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury is likely familiar to those who enjoy studying the Tudors, but for those who haven’t heard of her, it is a story that perfectly exemplifies several realities of life outside the very center of the Royal Family. Margaret was born a niece of a king and ended up the daughter of a traitor, the wife of an unknown entity and the mother of a papist in the middle of the reformation. She managed to survive until the third act of Henry VIII’s reign, but by then she stood for something else entirely as one of the last Plantagenets to have made it that far in Tudor England.

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In Elizabeth of York’s Shadow: Cecily of York, Lady Welles

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Cecily of York has always perplexed me. A daughter of one queen and sister to another, she was not only at the epicenter of “Wars of the Roses” drama, but unlike her younger sisters, Anne, Katherine and Bridget, she was old enough to know what was happening. She also came very close to playing a more high-profile role thanks to her betrothal to the future James IV of Scotland, and had her first marriage abruptly annulled when power changed hands in 1485. So, who exactly was this woman?

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Katherine of York, Countess of Devon & the Courtenays

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Remarkably given their dynastic importance, the chaos with which they were surrounded and their potential for mischief, the daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were a quiet lot. Much like the eldest, Elizabeth of York, there are only flashes of agency against an overarching pattern of obedience for the younger daughters.

While we know that Elizabeth became the queen consort of Henry VII and the third sister, Anne of York, married Thomas Howard, future 3rd Duke of Norfolk, today we’re going to focus on the second-to-youngest daughter, Katherine, whose life followed a very interesting Medieval pattern.

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The Ick Factor: Richard III & Elizabeth of York

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Speaking of the Tudor Myth, a fun little twist to exanining Richard III is seeing two wildly divergent schools of thought on him. While there are presumably some objective histories of his life and reign, most fall into two camps: those that revile him and those that apologize for him.

This is particularly evident in the question as to whether or not Richard III made plans to marry his niece, Elizabeth of York, in 1485. What exactly the nature of their relationship was has been eroded by time, but there is far too much smoke around the issue for there not to have been at least a reasonably-sized fire. In this case, the theory is borne out by the fact that there was contemporary speculation on the subject, as well as the fact that Richard took the pains to publicly deny it.

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The White Princess Recap: You Are All I Have Now

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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.

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

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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.

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The White Princess Recap: He is a Horrible, Bad Man

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I debated whether I was going to cover this series for a couple reasons: 1) it’s based on a book I haven’t read; 2) it’s most certainly not going to even attempt accuracy; and 3) it’s all a bit much. But there’s value in considering how history is being dramatized, if for no other reason than to be aware of what false bits are going to become lodged in the public consciousness. In this case that’s not really a huge concern as I don’t think most people are watching this show, but if it’s not a worthwhile exercise it’s at least an interesting one.

As some background, the White Princess is meant to follow a 2013 series called the White Queen, which covered the life of Elizabeth Woodville, consort of Edward IV, from 1464 to 1485. If you would like to know who that is then I would direct you here, here or here. The White Princess dramatizes the life of their eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, who married Henry VII in 1485. For more on her actual background, you can read more here.

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What Henry VIII Wanted From Women

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The simplest answer as to what Henry wanted from women may be the most obvious: a son. But a rational response to desiring and not receiving a legitimate male heir, even in the 16th century, wasn’t to form your own religion or behead your wife. Furthermore, Henry went through three more wives after his son, the future Edward VI, was born in 1537. Clearly “a son” wasn’t the only factor at play in Henry’s motivations for taking and discarding wives. So, what was going on?

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