Author Topic: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?  (Read 119286 times)

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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #135 on: October 08, 2013, 01:22:23 PM »
Not really. There was a strong rumour that Richard wanted to marry his niece to frustrate the hopes of Henry Tudor, the same dress incident (with Queen Anne Neville & Elizabeth of York in the same dress) does convey a kind of succession. Elizabeth did appear to flirt with her uncle and that fits the strategy of Elizabeth Woodville (Dame Grey at that time) to make her daughter Queen at any cost. The Northern Nobles who were faithful to Warrick and his daughter Anne would have none of that (poison Anne & replace her with his niece) and forced him to make a public declaration. It was as close to an admission that Richard III was at least thinking about it.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #136 on: October 08, 2013, 02:31:13 PM »
But bear in mind that the source for all this is the Croyland Chronicle, which is very anti-Richard.

To my mind the strongest argument against the whole idea is the simplest. Uncle-niece marriages did not happen in England, and getting a dispensation would have been difficult to say the least. Richard needed to marry again, and he needed to get Elizabeth married to prevent her from marrying Tudor. But marrying her himself was not the solution.

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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #137 on: October 08, 2013, 03:44:13 PM »
I think the speed he disposed his nephew from King to bastard made people look more closely at his actions. While I do not think the traditional evil crooked monster now holds any water, the fact remains that he was very ambitious and willing to go through great lengths to achieve power.

I don't think the fact is as simple as that. The facts seemed to indicate that Richard at least toy with the idea so much that there was alarm that it might come into fruition. Most certainly the Northern Nobles seem to think so and there is no indication that his public swearing that he would not marry his bastard niece was a work of fiction. If that fact stands (also indicated by other independent sources). Then I think that might be a ploy of Richard III that backfired. Also no indication he wanted Elizabeth to marry anybody but himself (since Elizabeth's younger sister Cecily was already married).

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #138 on: October 09, 2013, 03:33:04 AM »
I take your point that the idea was considered as a potential solution to two problems; that Elizabeth needed to be married off, and that Richard himself needed to marry again and produce heirs. Elizabeth may also have flirted with him - after all, teenage girls will flirt with virtually any man, and there were only 12 years between them.

However, I doubt very much that the idea got any further than an idea. Richard would have been rapidly reminded that he would not get a dispensation, and that would have been that.

Ann

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #139 on: October 09, 2013, 08:03:12 AM »
We also need to bear in mind that Elizabeth was a bastard. Richard would surely have to legitimize her before he married her.
There were negotiations with Portugal regarding the marriage of Richard to Joanna of Portugal and the marriage of Elizabeth and a Portuguese prince.
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #140 on: October 09, 2013, 10:17:35 AM »
The problem was that Elizabeth was NOT a bastard. She was only declared that by her uncle to justify his upsurging the throne from her brother Edward. The people of England were not convinced of that and they missed Edward IV and his jolly court with the beautiful queen and many children. That was the reason the Tudors had such an easy job in demonizing Richard III, his actions weren't so different that Henry IV. But the victim here wasn't a disgraced king (Richard II) but a widow and her young children. Richard III would never be popular under such circumstances. If Elizabeth Woodville & her daughter did not took the situation lying down (plotting with Margaret Beaufort etc), who could blame them. The evidence on Eleanor Butler was flimsy to say the least...It was thus poetic justice that Richard III's name was dragged in the mud (when he did the same to his brother). 

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #141 on: October 09, 2013, 10:30:22 AM »
Yes to both points.

For Richard to seek to marry Elizabeth himself was more trouble than it was worth. But it does seem strange that he did not rush to get her married to someone else, when he seems to have arranged Cecily's marriage to one of the Scropes. Maybe he wasn't taking the Tudor threat all that seriously at that stage - and, clearly, richard could not have known that he was going to be killed when he was. Necessarily, negotiating a marriage with Portugal was going to take longer than identifying one of his own followers who was free to marry and making the necessary arrangements (presumably, that is what happened wih Cecily!)

Elizabeth had been declared a bastard (not quite the same as being a bastard), so would need to have been unbastardised for Richard to marry her - more trouble than it was worth. I wonder whether the Portuguese would have raised difficulties over this.

Ann

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #142 on: October 09, 2013, 11:08:59 AM »
The problem was that Elizabeth was NOT a bastard. She was only declared that by her uncle to justify his upsurging the throne from her brother Edward. The people of England were not convinced of that and they missed Edward IV and his jolly court with the beautiful queen and many children. That was the reason the Tudors had such an easy job in demonizing Richard III, his actions weren't so different that Henry IV. But the victim here wasn't a disgraced king (Richard II) but a widow and her young children. Richard III would never be popular under such circumstances. If Elizabeth Woodville & her daughter did not took the situation lying down (plotting with Margaret Beaufort etc), who could blame them. The evidence on Eleanor Butler was flimsy to say the least...It was thus poetic justice that Richard III's name was dragged in the mud (when he did the same to his brother). 

The problem here with Edward's marriage is two fold.
1 There was a contract of marriage between himself and Eleanor Talbot....... A spoken vow of "I will marry you, now lets hop into bed".  Although there is now no proof of this, it is irrelevant BECAUSE;

2. The marriage between Edward and Elizabeth WAS ILLEGAL -  clandestine in that it was held in private, with few witnesses, there were no Banns called and the King's ministers were not involved.
   According to canon law, this clandestine marriage on its own was enough for it to have been no marriage and the children, according to the law of the church, to be illegitimate.
 If the Banns had been called then any impediment to their marriage could have been investigated and removed ( i.e. the Butler pre contract ).
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #143 on: October 09, 2013, 12:48:06 PM »
That is still problematic because:

1. By the time the situation was raised BOTH Edward IV & Eleanor Butler were DEAD. So they were not alive to defend themselves. It was only a bishop who heard something years ago and everything to gain by telling the Duke of Gloucester that. It is the same saying that George III married a Quackeress so his descendants (Queen Victoria included) was a usurper to the throne. Not to mention Richard III promised to his brother to support his nephew, which he broke the moment his brother died. That was a rumor and would have laughed out of court if presented today.

2. The marriage was deemed legal (sans the Eleanor Butler episode) by Warrick, Clarence and even Gloucester himself during Edward IV's life time. It wasn't challenged except it was accused to be done through witchcraft. Elizabeth of York was once even betrothed to Warrick's nephew George. Would he welcome a bastard into the family ? Sorry it was Richard III's naked aggression nothing else...

Offline Vecchiolarry

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #144 on: October 09, 2013, 01:00:14 PM »
Hi,

Wasn't Elizabeth Woodville crowned Queen?
Does or doesn't that mean she is married to The King?  Wouldn't the Church have had something to say about whether she was legally married or not - banns posted or not?

I would wonder whether the Church would crown a woman as Queen, even if The King wanted it and was not actually 'married' to her...

Just asking...

Larry

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #145 on: October 09, 2013, 01:55:35 PM »
Hi,

Wasn't Elizabeth Woodville crowned Queen?
Does or doesn't that mean she is married to The King?  Wouldn't the Church have had something to say about whether she was legally married or not - banns posted or not?

I would wonder whether the Church would crown a woman as Queen, even if The King wanted it and was not actually 'married' to her...

Just asking...

Larry

The church did not challenge marriages of its own volition unless there was an obviously case where canon law was being broken without a papal dispensation - e.g. an uncle-niece marriage - and would hardly have refused to crown Elizabeth Woodville given that no evidence had been presented at the time that the marriage was in some way dubious.  It was not an institution which went around trying to find ways of inconveniencing a ruler unless that ruler posed a threat to its power, possessions, or authority, none of which Edward IV did.  If Elizabeth Woodville had not borne a couple of male heirs, however, Edward IV might have brought up the subject of a marriage of doubtful legality himself, just as his grandson Henry VIII did when his wife proved unable to produce a male heir.

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #146 on: October 09, 2013, 02:00:30 PM »
R.H Helmholz is an authority on medieval canon law.
Can I direct you to:
"The sons of Edward IV. A Canonical Assessment to the Claim that they were Illegitimate".
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #147 on: October 09, 2013, 08:19:59 PM »
Not so fast. When does bastardy bars one from the throne ? William the Conquer was a bastard and still succeeded. No. The Church is not trustworthy in these matters as the case of Joan of Arc had demonstrated. One day she was a witch and another a saint ? In the court of law today, it would be deemed a technicality. One must also remember there are so called "common law wife". If a woman lives with a man for so many years and accepted by the church and family at the time (not to mention crowned). She is the wife. Richard III miscalculated his ambitions when he took the throne. He never did convinced the people of England of his justification of taking the throne for himself.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #148 on: October 10, 2013, 03:12:02 AM »
William I was king by conquest, and even 70 years later ideas had changed - when Henry I died in 1135 there seems to have been no question of his eldest bastard Robert of Gloucester succeeding him (and Gloucester himself never seems to have pressed a claim!).

There is a principle of British constitutional law that Parliament can legislate on anything. this was not fully developed in 1483, but Parliament could certainly make someone a bastard. Parliament could also declare a person to be legitimate.

As far as the 'common law marriage' argument is concerned, did medieval canon law accept such a thing? Serious question, as I'm not a specialist in it. In any case, Elizabeth was born ldess than a year after the secret marriage, so it could hardly be said that the idea of Edward and Elizabeth Woodville had been living together for many years at that point.

In my view, given Edward IV's track record, it is far from impossible that there was a pre-contract with Eleanor Butler. Not certain, but certainly possible. On that basis, Elizabeth would have been illegitimate, and not legitimised by a later lawful marriage between her parents, since a second marriage ceremony did't take place. Canon law did provide that the children of an unwittingly consanguineous marriage were legitimate if neither parent appreciated that they were related within the prohibited degrees - one example is Robert II of Scots and the issue of his first marriage. I don't know whether that also applied to previous pre-contracts, but Edward would certainly have known of any plight troth he had entered into, and Eleanor Butler was still alive in 1465.

Ann

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Romance between Elizabeth of York and Richard III?
« Reply #149 on: October 10, 2013, 01:09:53 PM »
You touch upon a point that is worth looking at. That is parliament can declare a person a bastard or legitimate. 

Eleanor Butler was alive in 1465, but not in 1483 when she could have given testimony for her case. Most historians (except Richardians) believe that canon law would not have declared the issue of Edward IV illegitimate but deal with it like an adultery. Most certainly if Elizabeth Woodville's marriage with Edward IV was in any shaky grounds, it would have flushed out at the King's first banishment to the Netherlands. Instead a weak case against Jacquatta Lady Rivers on the grounds of witchcraft was used instead. If the Earl of Warrick did not used it, it must be it was a weak case. He also accepted the marriage as legal but challenged the way it was brought about.

Also a real marriage trumps a pre-contract. If we are to believe that Edward IV spoke of marriage to every woman he beds, then there will be much more. Elizabeth Woodville & her mother made sure that as far as the church is concerned it was air-tight. The real problem with Richard III is that the people did not buy that argument.