Posts Tagged ‘Nevilles’


History as Fiction

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

Many of us have become wary of enjoying this genre, knowing that many of the plots are based loosely on fact and owe heaps to the inventiveness of the writer. Others are well researched and a tribute to the authors’ imagination as to what might have been. Of course it must be welcomed if it inspires interest in a period or person. Just think what The Daughter of Time has done for Richard!

A Dangerous Inheritance, by Alison Weir, Hutchinson, 2012, rrp AU$32.95, ISBN978009 1926236

Knowing this writer’s tendency to downplay Richard of Gloucester’s good qualities and find plenty of reasons to position him as an arch villain, I opened this with a little trepidation, and closed it with an appreciation of the skilful linking of two periods of time, two intriguing heroines and a connection to history’s most baffling mystery.

The two women are Katherine Grey, younger sister of the ill-fated Lady Jane, and Kate Plantagenet, bastard daughter of Richard III. During Katherine’s early arranged marriage to Henry, heir to Lord Pembroke, she comes into possession of a n old box of letters from the attics of Raglan Castle This was the last home of Kateand these letters reveal her love for her caring father. It is only later that his darker side becomes apparent – and maybe with good reason.

The women have much in common: both love men who are forbidden to them; both face danger. As a potential rival for the throne, Katherine suffers the anger and distrust of her cousin Queen Elizabeth, and for much of her life is confined to the Tower, separated from her second husband and elder son. After Richard’s  unexpected succession, Kate becomes aware of rumours and threats to the family, and tries to seek the truth about what happened her two cousins, the sons of Edward IV.

It’s an intriguing story of two women usually relegated to the background. Enjoy the easy movement between the years, the mystery not just of the princes, but also Kate’s mother, and why and when Kate died and her unexpected lover. Above all, learn about the turbulence of the life when you are far too close to the throne for comfort.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter, by Philippa Gregory, Simon & Schuster, 2012, rrp AU$36. ISBN97 80857207463.

The fourth book in the Cousins’ War series, this is a portrait of Anne Neville, younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.  Her childhood is warm with the friendship with the powerful Yorkists, including the youngest son, Richard of Gloucester, but this changes rapidly as the  families become enemies. She faces exile in France, and becomes a pawn in her father’s ambition to regain his lost power, forced into marriage to the only son of  Henry VI’s ruthless Queen Margaret. All too soon she is fatherless, widowed, with her mother confined in sanctuary and her elder sister Isabel married to the fickle Duke of Clarence. Danger is never far away even when Gloucester rescues her from Clarence’s hold, marries her and she eventually becomes his Queen for the rest of her life of two short years and the tragedy it brings.

There is always room for more about Queen Anne, and I appreciated the volatile relationship between the two sisters that rang so true to life. But it seems a lot is missing. I wanted more. I hate to think that it was written too swiftly – maybe a publisher’s behest to meet a good sales deadline. What will the next book in the series tell us? Apparently it is about the possible fate of the two princes, part of the story about their sister, Princess Elizabeth of York – Richard III’s secret lover.

Oh dear.

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On Saturday 12 May 2012 the Richard III Society NSW Branch held their eagerly anticipated biannual mini-conference in the Southern Highlands, at the Mittagong RSL.

A few of us, who had travelled to Mittagong the day before, met up for an informal dinner in the club’s bistro, being happy meeting old friends and making new ones.

The event was attended by both Sydney-based regulars (some of whom braved the long journey on buses replacing the usual trains) and other members, some coming from as far away as the ACT and Victoria.  We were especially pleased to welcome Michael, the chairman of the Victoria branch, and his wife Yvonne, as well as Gillian and Bruce from the South Australian branch.

The presentations were very diverse, with competent speakers from a wide range of backgrounds. David Mee spoke on ‘Medieval Coins’ and brought examples of types of coinage from across the centuries, including one from the era of Richard III.

Judith Hughes spoke on ‘Eleanor Talbot, the Spurned Queen’, being the hapless lady the self-serving young Edward IV secretly wed then ignored for the rest of her life, whilst making a public life with Elizabeth Woodville, with whom he had his large brood.

Karen Clark spoke on ‘John Nevill’s Feud and the Destruction of a Family’, an area of particular expertise and one on which she is writing a book. Her detailed grasp of the generations of family members and their competition was impressive. The Percy family still survives, although the Nevilles are long gone, she mentioned in conclusion.

Kevin Herbert spoke on the ‘Royal Relicts’ – the widows of the kings. His handout was chockfull of details worth knowing, and his presentation a highlight of the day.

Lynne Foley and Dorothea Preis critiqued Ricardian books they had recently read.  Lynne favourably reviewed Margaret of York: The Diabolical Duchess by Christine Weightman. Dorothea told us about the recently published Richard III by David Baldwin, which has its good points, but does not offer much new for someone well versed in the period. Her wise counsel saved us all some cash and precious time by knowing which books we could safely skip.

Doug and Leslie McCawley spoke about their favourite Ricardian books, having been invited on short notice to replace a speaker who had to cancel. They chose the ever-popular Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman, and Some Touch of Pity by Rhoda Edwards.

Julia Redlich spoke about how Richard III has been presented on stage across time.

Helen Portus and Denise Rawling spoke on ‘Richard III the Posthumous Hunchback’, getting audience members to question what we accept on face value in the media, and encouraging us to be discerning consumers of received opinions and so-called histories.

Ann Chandler gave us a comprehensive (and tricky) 4-page quiz to complete during the day, then graded the results and announced the winners. The more cowed amongst us did not hand our quizzes in, admitting defeat early on!  Our congratulations went to Karen for winning by achieving 47 out of 50 possible points.

In addition to the speakers, other attractions included a Bring and Buy table, the sale of the books from the lamented dissolution of the once fine branch library, Ricardian pens, bags and brooches for sale, and best of all the opportunity to catch up with friends in a leisurely manner.

At the conclusion of the day, the representatives of the Victoria branch surprised us by presenting the NSW branch with a beautiful table runner in Yorkist murrey adorned with white roses.  We were delighted and would like to give a big ‘thank you’ to our friends from Victoria!

A number of attendees chose to stay for the weekend so the festivities continued after the conference proper with dinner out and a day to explore the attractions of the area. The weather was sparklingly clear and cool, and the venue well chosen. Thanks to the organisers for another successful and pleasurable branch event.

Leslie McCawley

Members, who decided to stay on at Mittagong, as well as several partners met up on Saturday evening for dinner with lots of interesting talk and laughter on a wide variety of topics.  We discovered that most of us were addicted to Phryne Fisher on Fridays and Miss Marple on Tuesdays – how we loved the fact that Mrs Lancaster was the baddie in a recent episode!  Other topics were the Richard III of Horrible Histories, medieval and more modern jewellery.  We wondered why so often in information for the general public there seems to be nothing of historical interest before the Tudors came along – quite contrary to what actually happened.

We all enjoyed the food and, when consulting with the delightful waitstaff, we learned that the chef was new. Yvonne from the Victoria branch immediately told them that they were never to let him go! Although it wasn’t a formal Ricardian banquet, the Man Himself was not forgotten in a loyal toast – and the three fingered salute from Horrible Histories.

Dorothea Preis and Julia Redlich

Sunday morning saw us enjoying a long leisurely breakfast. Some farewells were said to those who had to return home, then the rest of us prepared for our excursion to the small Southern Highlands town of Robertson.
One group opted for the swiftest way thanks to SatNav; the other decided on the Scenic Route – and what a reward that was: sunshine, blue skies, green fields, magnificent mansions and extensive gardens behind imposing gates – and the trees wearing their most wonderful autumn colours of red and gold.

Colour was also important in discovering the others at our destination, something made simple by spotting Kevin wearing the super-long scarf in Ricardian colours that Alex had made for our sales table!

It was the monthly market day, so wandering around the stalls was a must. Chilly winters mean the locals are knitters beyond compare! The quality of the huge choice of items from sweaters to babywear and beanies was wonderfully enticing, as were the book selections – and as for the vegetable displays …

The obvious choice for lunch was the Fantastic Robertson Pie Shop, where justice was done to piping hot pastries with a mind-boggling range of fillings. One group then went on an antiques exploration, the other chose to return to Mittagong, put their feet up with the Sunday papers and gather strength for return to the everyday life after yet another rewarding Ricardian weekend.

Julia Redlich

The two photographs from the conference © Bruce Laughton; the photograph of the table runner © Julia Redlich.

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Medieval Warwick Study Day

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Ricardian Places

Warwick Castle is of special relevance for Ricardians, as it is the birthplace of Richard III’s queen Anne Neville (on 11 June 1456).

Warwick Castle was begun by William I in 1068 in the motte-and-bailey type, using the cliff and river Avon on the one side as a natural defence, the other walls are protected by a dry moat.  The castle’s most formidable defences are at the north-east end, where in the 14th century a central gatehouse tower and two other towers, Caesar’s and Guy’s Towers, were built.

The castle was part of the Beaumont and then the Beauchamp inheritance.  Through Anne Beauchamp, the title Earl of Warwick and the Warwick estates had come to Richard Neville, who became the 16th Earl of Warwick and would later be known as the “Kingmaker”.  They had two daughters, Isabel and Anne, but no sons.   After Richard Earl of Warwick fell at the Battle of Barnet, the estates were divided between Anne Beauchamp’s two sons-in-law, Edward IV’s younger brothers George Duke of Clarence and Richard Duke of Gloucester.  The earldom went to George as the husband of the older daughter.  After the deaths of both Isabel (in 1476) and George (in 1478) their then three-year–old son Edward inherited the estates.  Due to his minority it was in the custody of the crown [1]. Read the rest of this entry »

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550th Anniversary of the Battle of Northampton

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

We may be 550 years late for the Battle of Northampton, fought on 10 July 1460 between the Yorkist forces commanded by the Earl of Warwick and Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces, but this coming weekend there will be lots of action for latecomers like us (and more peaceful, too).  A wide variety of Battle related activities will take place at at the original battle site at Delapré Abbey,  including a re-enactment of part of the Battle.  Other attractions are: Jousting on horseback with full armour, gunpowder and large canon demonstrations, the display of a soldiers’ encampment and music from the period of the Battle.  And if all this makes you hungry and thirsty there will also be food stalls offering medieval fare.

This fun weekend will be followed by a conference on the Battle of Northampton on the anniversary itself (10 July) at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, organised by The Battlefields Trust.  The programme promises to be fascinating with talks on “The Wars of the Roses and the Northampton Campaign”, “Developments in Warfare During the 15th Century”, “The Battle of Northampton”, “Where Is the Battlefield?” and “Finding Medieval Battlefields”.

You can find more information on the weekend at Delapré Abbey here and about the conference at Northampton Museum here.

IllustrationWar of the Roses © Andrew Jamieson,

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