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Exploring Alternate Wars of the Roses: King George

#6
As explored in the section of my 2013 book on 'Alternate History of Britain: The Wars of the Roses' (Pen and Sword), I have looked at the two scenarios here which I think most plausible: 1. either Warwick has Edward IV deposed in 1469 on account of the story of his father really being the mysterious archer 'Blaybourne' not the Duke of York (which it is not clear was known about or invented pre-1483 as it only seems to surface then) and puts Clarence on the throne, or he arranges an 'accident' to the captive Edward to avoid having to show up Edward's mother Cecily Neville, his own aunt, as an adulteress ; 2. Clarence keeps out of trouble in 1471-83, a big 'ask' but possible if his wife Isabel Neville does not die in 1476 - probably of TB exacerbated by childbirth. (Both Warwick's daughters died young as did Anne Neville's son by Richard III, Edward of Middleham, so logically there may have been medical problems in the family that would hit any surviving line of Clarence's son Edward, earl of Warwick, or Richard's son Edward on the throne.)

In the case of 1 Clarennce is in a fairly strong position, especially if Edward is dead and it is Warwick not him who is blamed for it - Edward has only left 2 daughters by a secret and dubious marriage, and alarmed Edwardian court loyalists and allies of the dead William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, and Lord Rivers senior (Edward's wife Elizabeth's father), executed by Warwick in the coup, can hardly call in their arch-foe Margaret of Anjou and her French backers to overthrow Warwick or they will face Lancastrians back in power and calling for their estates that were confiscated by Edward in 1461 to be restored. More likely Clarence, as 'King George', will bide his time and get rid of Warwick (born 1428 so still fairly young but 21 years older than Clarence) later, perhaps using his brother John Neville, marquis of Montague - who apparently was grateful enough to Edward in OTL to avoid capturing and killing him in the later 1470 coup and when Edward returned in March 1471 was found wearing Edward's battle-colours under his armour as he backed Warwick at the battle of Barnet so he might have been about to defect then. If Clarence gives John the marquisate and lands that E did in OTl 1470, or keeps him in the earldom of Northumberland as ruler of the NE (Edward took this from him in OTl 1470 for the rightful Percy family owners, so John then aided the exiled Warwick's invasion) , John may help Clarence get rid of his brother - or Clarence could turn to the Percies. Alternatively, one other possibility is that Edward is killed in battle at Barnet in 1471, though he manages to defeat and kill Warwick as in OTL, or he falls at Tewkesbury fighting Margaret a few weeks later - and Clarence declares that E's son is a bastard and England needs a legitimate adult king and takes the crown.That way he has already shown his Yorkist loyalty and helped their victory, so he has more if reluctant Yorkist backing .

If Clarence is still around in 1471-83, with his wife Isabel still alive, Edward is unlikely to trust this serial traitor to be regent / protector for his young son, but giving the role to Richard instead will be resisted as it is usually the late king's next adult male kinsman who gets the title of regent/ protector (so it should go to Clarence). So does Edward
create a council of equals with Clarence just honorary head councillor, as Henry V did for his distrusted and wayward brother Humphrey of Gloucester when he died in 1422? (Henry had an intervening next brother, John duke of Bedford, but he was absent as regent in France.) If Clarence stages a coup to take full powers, he does not have the excuse of the late king's alleged will granting this as Richard used for his own coup - though R never revealed the alleged document so it may have been fiction. And if Clarence is at large in April 1483 as titular chief councillor as as left out of the council, Anthony Woodville will be a good deal less trusting than he was in OTL when he let Richard intercept and seize him at Stony Stratford. if there is a coup it is a violent one, with Clarence having large estates and so a considerable army, but will Richard try to stop him by force?

I find it intriguing that Clarence may have had a legal claim as Edward's heir, if the alleged betrothal ceremony (as legal a marriage as a full marriage ceremony in the C15th) between Edward and Eleanor Butler, nee Talbot, did take place c. 1462 - and the supposed witness of this , or holder of evidence, Bishop Stillington of Bath and Wells (Edward's head of the private chancery/ lord privy seal in 1462-5 so the likely man to be entrusted with private legal arrangements), was arrested when Clarence was seized by Edward for treason, tried, and killed in early 1478. S was accused of words prejudicial to the King - does this mean he talked about the Eleanor B affair, Clarence found out and tried to use it, and Edward shut Stillington up? (The opponents of this allege that Richard just invented the betrothal story in 1483.) And by C15th Church law a marriage had to be in public in a church to be legal, and Edward's was not - it was apparently in a private chapel? at Elizabeth Woodville's home at Grafton Regis, Northants with very few witnesses and the priest unknown, and none of his council or family were there. So legally was it invalid and Clarence was the correct heir, assuming that Edward did not 'remarry' Elizabeth once his 'first wife/ fiancee' Eleanor was dead in 1468 - his son was not born until 1470? Clarence was as likely as Richard to have tried to depose Edward V in 1470, but less likely to have won in a straight battle with the Woodvilles for control of Edward.

And if Edward was 'married' to Eleanor, she was still alive when his eldest daughter Elizabeth of York was born in 1466, and she was not the legal heir after 1483 so her transmitting the claim to her Tudor children was illegal too. (Her husband Henry Tudor/ H VII notably based his claim on his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, descended from John of Gaunt son of Edward III, not on his wife). And Henry had the Ricardian act of parliament covering the 'illegal marriage of Edward IV' declared invalid in 1485 and all copies of it confiscated - a classic cover-up??
 
#7
I find it intriguing that Clarence may have had a legal claim as Edward's heir, if the alleged betrothal ceremony (as legal a marriage as a full marriage ceremony in the C15th) between Edward and Eleanor Butler, nee Talbot, did take place c. 1462 - and the supposed witness of this , or holder of evidence, Bishop Stillington of Bath and Wells (Edward's head of the private chancery/ lord privy seal in 1462-5 so the likely man to be entrusted with private legal arrangements), was arrested when Clarence was seized by Edward for treason, tried, and killed in early 1478. S was accused of words prejudicial to the King - does this mean he talked about the Eleanor B affair, Clarence found out and tried to use it, and Edward shut Stillington up? (The opponents of this allege that Richard just invented the betrothal story in 1483.) And by C15th Church law a marriage had to be in public in a church to be legal, and Edward's was not - it was apparently in a private chapel? at Elizabeth Woodville's home at Grafton Regis, Northants with very few witnesses and the priest unknown, and none of his council or family were there. So legally was it invalid and Clarence was the correct heir, assuming that Edward did not 'remarry' Elizabeth once his 'first wife/ fiancee' Eleanor was dead in 1468 - his son was not born until 1470? Clarence was as likely as Richard to have tried to depose Edward V in 1470, but less likely to have won in a straight battle with the Woodvilles for control of Edward.

And if Edward was 'married' to Eleanor, she was still alive when his eldest daughter Elizabeth of York was born in 1466, and she was not the legal heir after 1483 so her transmitting the claim to her Tudor children was illegal too. (Her husband Henry Tudor/ H VII notably based his claim on his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, descended from John of Gaunt son of Edward III, not on his wife). And Henry had the Ricardian act of parliament covering the 'illegal marriage of Edward IV' declared invalid in 1485 and all copies of it confiscated - a classic cover-up??
I go back and forth on whether or not I believe the precontract story, to be honest.

Impossible to know for certain now, of course, so you have to just try and weigh up the possibilities.

If it was true, then it was unspeakably, spectacularly, reckless on Edward's part.

Re: Stillington- if he had been imprisoned in 1478 on suspicion of, essentially, impugning the legitimacy of the King's children, would he have really been allowed to just... go free after Clarence was disposed of?

That it only got brought up 20-odd years after the fact, not finding its way to e.g. Warwick and Clarence's ears during 1469-70, is also interesting.
 
#8
There is an interesting possibility behind the secrecy of Edward's marriage ceremony to Elizabeth Woodville being in private - which is usually assumed to be due to fear of what Warwick would say and if he would try to stop it. (He would hardly turn Lancastrian even if he was furious, though - Queen Margaret had killed , or at least not tried to stop the execution, of his father the earl of Salisbury after S was captured alive at the battle of Wakefield by Margaret's men under the duke of Somerset in December 1460.) Warwick was also uncle to Eleanor Butler/ Talbot, which links to a rumour in 1462 that Edward was having an affair with a niece of Warwick's - though he presumably did not know of the 'precontract ceremony between Edward and EB' , if it occurred, or he'd have used it in 1469 to get Edward deposed or Queen Elizabeth declared a bigamist and her marriage annulled.

But did Edward want the marriage ceremony to Elizabeth to be in private in case he wanted to have it denied later on, if he found that the Council (Warwick included) were implacably opposed to it? Was he really that devious, and was it Elizabeth not him who insisted on a marriage not a betrothal ceremony, and who first publicised it in order to force his hand? So she was more worldly and ruthless than Eleanor Butler/Talbot, an idealist who later became a lay member of a religious fraternity in Norwich, near her sister the duchess of Norfolk's home where she lived, and was buried
in a nearby convent church? So could Edward have denied the Woodville marriage if his council had stood up to him, and left two not one 'wives' out in the cold?

More 'form' for unpleasant ruthlessness and bending the law by Edward; when the last Mowbray duke of Norfolk, husband to Eleanor's sister, died in 1476 Edward had his small daughter married off to his second son Richard (b 1473), later the younger of the princes in the Tower. The girl, Duchess Anne of Norfolk and the Mowbray heiress, was thus intended to transfer her estates to Richard, who would be Duke of York and Norfolk when he grew up - but she died young in 1481. The estates should have gone back to her cousins; Edward kept them , in trust for Richard. The legal closest heir to the estates and title, John Howard (ancestor of out modern Dukes of Norfolk), only got the title and most of the estates from Richard III, who he was serving as lord admiral and military supremo - and who got killed fighting for him at Bosworth. So Richard stuck to the law more than Edward did - as long as it fitted in with his plans.

Edward's dubiously loyal cousin the Duke of Exeter, a descendant of John of Gaunt son of Edward III so arguably with a claim to the throne, was not trusted after his 1470-1 service with the Lancastrians, and he had his wife Anne, Edward IV's sister, divorced from him as he was marginalised. He was still a problem, like Clarence - and in 1475 he was invited to bring his tenants/troops along on Edward's invasion of France but on the way home 'fell overboard' from his ship , and drowned - with no witnesses. Was he pushed? And if he had been more adept at politics or more liked, could this potential claimant to the throne still been a major player in 1483-5 and have ended up deserting (or being executed by) Richard?
 
#9
But did Edward want the marriage ceremony to Elizabeth to be in private in case he wanted to have it denied later on, if he found that the Council (Warwick included) were implacably opposed to it? Was he really that devious, and was it Elizabeth not him who insisted on a marriage not a betrothal ceremony, and who first publicised it in order to force his hand? So she was more worldly and ruthless than Eleanor Butler/Talbot, an idealist who later became a lay member of a religious fraternity in Norwich, near her sister the duchess of Norfolk's home where she lived, and was buried
in a nearby convent church? So could Edward have denied the Woodville marriage if his council had stood up to him, and left two not one 'wives' out in the cold?
I've also seen it suggested that Edward only revealed the marriage to his council because Elizabeth was pregnant, with the pregnancy then ending in a miscarriage, but there's never been any substantiation for that.

And I'm exploring Exeter's claim in my next article.
 

Geordie

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#10
The somewhat interesting way all of the sons of York interpreted legality at times is rather fascinating. George and Richard had a good fight over the Salisbury inheritances of their wives, but it was exacerbated by Edward saying the law should treat the dowager Countess as legally dead. Doubts about Edward's marriage, Edward running roughshod over the Norfolk inheritance, Richard's feud with Stanley in Cheshire, Exeter's 'unfortunate' drowning.

Even for a period when nobles were as grasping and avaricious a they could get away with, some of these actions were enough to ruffle the feathers of their contemporaries. And that's without discussing the fact that Gloucester almost certainly had his nephews disposed of.

And for all that, I'm still a sympathiser for the Yorkist and Ricardian causes.
 
#11
The somewhat interesting way all of the sons of York interpreted legality at times is rather fascinating.
I suppose “somewhat interesting” is one way to describe gleefully ignoring the law whenever it’s convenient.

As for remaining a Yorkist and Ricardian sympathiser despite it all, I’m very familiar with that feeling. Helps that the other side doesn’t really have anyone to capture one’s sympathies (I suppose you can sympathise with Henry VI as a man, but as a king...) and plenty who are guilty of the same sins as the Yorkists.
 

Geordie

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#12
I suppose “somewhat interesting” is one way to describe gleefully ignoring the law whenever it’s convenient.

As for remaining a Yorkist and Ricardian sympathiser despite it all, I’m very familiar with that feeling. Helps that the other side doesn’t really have anyone to capture one’s sympathies (I suppose you can sympathise with Henry VI as a man, but as a king...) and plenty who are guilty of the same sins as the Yorkists.
The two quotes I always come back to on Henry VI are:

"Henry would have made a fine monk. Perhaps even a Saint. Sadly, he was, from almost the moment of his birth, take with being king of England and France. At that, he was hopeless."

and

"As the news of Castillon reached the English Court, Henry fell into a state of catatonia. He was totally unresponsive, and incapable of rule. This plunged England into a crisis. [Details of Richard as protector, and his fighting with Margaret]... It was at this point, the crisis at the heart of England became a disaster, when the worst possible thing happened. Henry recovered."

I don't recall where i heard the first. The second was from my lecturer James Ross, who's fairly clued-up on this period.
 
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Redolegna

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#13
"Henry would have made a fine monk. Perhaps even a Saint. Sadly, he was, from almost the moment of his birth, take with being king of England and France. At that, he was hopeless."
That certainly was said of Louis VII, if not the 'from birth' part. Indeed he was raised to be a monk (presumably an abbot, really), only being a king because his brother died in that freak pig accident.

That did wonders to his marriage as well.