Richard III discussion

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Group Reads > The Seventh Son by Reay Tannahill Feb 5 - March 5

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message 1: by Misfit (last edited Feb 07, 2009 04:16AM) (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
The Seventh Son by Reay Tannahill

Our first group read. I'm betting Ikon will be posting here before the rest of us :)


message 2: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I have taken a vow of silence until March 5. (Well, on this topic at least.) How many of us are in this group reading this one?


message 3: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I am, but I don't know when I'll start it. I'm busy with a D du M book at the moment, plus Weir's book on Katherine Swynford and The King's Grey Mare on Elizabeth Woodville ready to pick up at the libary.


message 4: by Barb (last edited Feb 07, 2009 07:20AM) (new)

Barb | 145 comments I'm looking forward to reading this with all of you.

Can we hold our thoughts on the book until everyone has finished it and then discuss it and post our reviews then?

I think that it's better not to share opinions of a group read until we have all read it. That way we don't influence someone else's experience with the book.
Sound fair?


message 5: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I have signed on to your idea. it sounds not only fair but sensible. ;)


message 6: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I'm in with the two of you.


message 7: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
As the fifth approaches us the question is will Ikon be able to contain it at midnight and wait for the rest of us to wake up :o


message 8: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments Hey, am I really the first one up?
I posted my review on the book page.

I thought this was an interesting look at the same story, a different perspective than SKPenman. I enjoyed the humor that Tannahill inserts.

But I didn't find it an 'easy read' it wasn't that it was so difficult, it was just a bit drier than I care generally for.


message 9: by Ikonopeiston (last edited Mar 05, 2009 05:27AM) (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I was modestly waiting for someone else to make the first comment on this day. My own review and rating is now posted.

Barb, I note that I enjoyed the book considerably more than you did. I gave it four stars and it would have been five did I not preserve the fifth for extraordinary discoveries. I liked very much the acerbic tone of the entire book and found this portrayal of Richard much more convincing that either the villain or the saint we so often encounter.


BTW: This was in my In-Box this morning:

Posted by: "Paul Trevor Bale" paul.bale@sky.com paul103258
Wed Mar 4, 2009 7:57 am (PST)

On this day in 1461 Henry VI was deposed and his throne taken by the
rightful heir, Edward of York!
Three cheers for York!
Paul

Richard liveth yet


message 10: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments I agree that the dipiction of Richard seemed much more realistic than any other I have read so far.


message 11: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments I'm going to go read your review...then we have school...but I'll be back to chat later.
:0)


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments I enjoyed this one too--it and The Sunne and Splendour are my two favorites in this area. I particularly liked the depiction of Anne as a strong, intelligent woman with a sense of humor instead of as the wimp or martyr she's generally depicted as. And it was nice to have the cookshop episode not turned into the usual three-hanky melodrama.


message 13: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments It is nice to see Anne as a real person. Given the duties of a woman of her class, she could not have been the Pre-Raphaelite drooping bud as she is so often portrayed.

The unadorned prose of this book and the willingness to forego the usual romanticism makes it refreshing to read after so many sugary takes on the story.


message 14: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I see little old me on the Pacific Coast is the last to wake up and join the discussion. I really enjoyed it, gave it four stars - will go post my review soon since we're ready to talk.

I loved the dry wit and most especially the banter between Richard and Francis. And I loved loved the kitchen scene with Anne.


message 15: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Where on earth did they get the almonds to make almond milk? I know trade was good but... Still, I must remember that marchpane was a common dessert, at least among the gentry, and that surely took a lot of almonds. Just where did they get them? ;)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) They must have gotten a ton of the almonds, where ever they got them - almond milk is all over the medieval recipes I have. Especially for the lenten versions of recipes.

This one looks interesting; may have to read it.


message 17: by Susan (last edited Mar 05, 2009 03:57PM) (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Reay Tannahil wrote a nonfiction book called Food in History. Maybe she'd have some details in there. (She also wrote one called Sex in History. Food and sex--if she'd written one called War in History, she'd have it all, wouldn't she?)


message 18: by Laura (new)

Laura Barb, my book din´t arrive yet, it is coming....I will join you later on.


message 19: by Pat (new)

Pat | 39 comments Hi everyone, I'm back. After reading your reviews, I know I will need to find this book. I took The Sunne in Splendour with me on my trip, but only managed to get to C4, so will continue on with it now.
Ikon...good question about the almonds. Almond trees need a warm and dry climate, so I doubt there were few if any areas in England where they would grow. Possibly France? I believe the orgin of almonds is in Asia, that would be my best guess.
Susan...Those books you mention sound very interesting, will have to check the library for them.
Anyway, its good to be back. I'm having a lot of fun catching up on all the discussions.


message 20: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments Hey all,
Did you already know that when young George Neville died the properties that Richard Duke of Gloucester had been given by his brother the king would revert back to a member of the Neville family?

I thought that was a huge piece of information that I hadn't read anywhere else before and it changed how I thought of Richard. When I read SKP's SIS I felt like he was reluctant to take the throne and did so because he thought it was for the better of the country. But having your home and lands taken from you seem like a swifter bit of motivation to take the throne to me.


message 21: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments Pat,
You can have my copy of this one.
E-mail me your particulars.
:0)


message 22: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I had the feeling there were two things prodding Richard to take the throne. First - the fear that the sickly Edward V would not prove to be a good king, even when he reached his majority, influenced as he was by the Woodville clan. Second (perhaps more urgent) - the belief that the Woodvilles would manage to kill him (Richard) once Edward assumed the throne and took power. It had happened over and over to those who served as Protectors to minor kings. Richard, at the time he became king, wanted to live and protect Anne and little Edward. His emotional state after their deaths can only be guessed at.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments What evidence is there that Edward V was sickly? The only that I know of is the evidence that one of the skeletons in the Tower had a diseased jaw--and that assumes that the body was Edward V's. It's true he had a physician attending him, but that was the norm for kings.




message 24: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments I know nothing but...
I thought he had an infection in his jaw
that seemed to be worked many of the fictional stories I've read, as for the truth of the matter I haven't a clue.


message 25: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments He is so often presented as a rather weedy type. In any event, I should not have mentioned his physical health since it is of no importance here. It is the presumption that the Woodville influence would have continued into his reign which might have made Richard more inclined to prevent that from happening. I should have placed the emphasis on the mental and emotional qualifications of one reared by the members of his mother's family.


message 26: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Barb wrote: "I know nothing but...
I thought he had an infection in his jaw
that seemed to be worked many of the fictional stories I've read, as for the truth of the matter I haven't a clue."

I suspect that is due to the fact that the older of the two skeletons found in the Tower in the seventeenth century had pronounced necrosis of the jaw. If the remains were indeed those of Edward IV's sons, then Edward V must have been very ill and suffering from severe pain. However, the skeletons are not anywhere near being authenticated as those of the Princes in the Tower. It all gets quite confusing as fiction conflates with fact. ;)




message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Ikonopeiston wrote: "He is so often presented as a rather weedy type. In any event, I should not have mentioned his physical health since it is of no importance here. It is the presumption that the Woodville influenc..."


I think the Woodville influence on Edward V is overstated. Edward IV could be quite ruthless when needed, and I very much doubt he was inclined to stand back and let his queen dictate how the heir to the throne was raised.

I do agree, though, that once Richard ordered the deaths of Anthony Woodvile and the others, he had the problem of a king with a potential grudge against him.


message 28: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Whether Elizabeth dictated the composition of the household of her son Edward or not, the fact is that he was reared by the Woodville faction.

I completely agree with you that once the stone started rolling downhill, there was really only one path it could take. Richard, in his efforts to protect his own life, found himself in an untenable position in so far as his nephew was concerned.

Are you discounting the Stillington evidence? A man with the morals of Richard could not have let a bastard ascend the throne, whatever his own inclinations.


message 29: by Susan (last edited Mar 06, 2009 02:29PM) (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Ikonopeiston wrote: "Whether Elizabeth dictated the composition of the household of her son Edward or not, the fact is that he was reared by the Woodville faction.

I completely agree with you that once the stone sta..."


Ah, there's where the Ricardians and I part ways, I'm afraid. I think the precontract was a fabrication, though there may well have been some sort of affair between Edward IV and Eleanor Talbot. I've yet to see any evidence that convinces me otherwise.

Even if there was a precontract, though, Richard had another option left open to him: allow his other nephew, Warwick, to take the throne. Granted, there would have been the problem of another child king, but in that case there would have been a child king grateful to his uncle Richard for helping him to the throne.



Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) This website ( http://www.innvista.com/health/foods/... ) says almonds were twice as common in English cooking in the medieval period than in French cooking of the time, and speculates "snob value" as the reason. Because apparently they grew in France (Charlemagne seems to have encouraged it) and not in England (I would guess too cold). Wikipedia (I know, I know) suggested an Arab influence on English medieval cooking via the Normans in Sicily and the Crusades. I take this one with a grain of salt.


message 31: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Then why Titulus regius? And the sermon on 'bastard slips shall take no root'? Is it your position that the Council would just roll over and let Richard usurp the throne with nary a whimper? I, too, wish there remained some solid proof of the pre-contract, but we must go by the actions of those in a position to have seen the proof and judged it sufficient.

As to Warwick, I have no idea whether the lad was a bit lacking in wits or not but I do think the people would have been a tad irritated at the subbing in of one boy king for another, particularly given the feelings for the fathers of those two boy kings. It would also have required that the Bill of Attainder against George be reversed. (I know that was a common practice, but still...) Given the presence of a grown man, brother to Edward IV, experienced in management and war, I truly believe there would have been no contest. I have noted in reading histories of the period that the populace of England had a way of making their opinions heard - one way or another. ;)


message 32: by Susan (last edited Mar 06, 2009 04:02PM) (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Titulus Regius and the sermon were there because the allegations were there--I don't dispute that the allegations were made, only their veracity. But Titulus Regius is suspiciously vague about the details of the precontract--only the lady's name is given, not any specifics of when it was made, how it was made, etc.

The allegations of the precontract were made public after Hastings' death, which must have surely been a warning to anyone on the council daring enough to speak out against Richard. Indeed, Dominic Mancini, writing well before Henry Tudor's reign, stated that the council was "warned by the example of Hastings, and perceiving the alliance of the two dukes, whose power, supported by a multitude of troops, would be difficult and hazardous to resist." Mancini was writing safely from his home abroad, with no reason to slant his story against Richard. The Crowland Chronicle also speaks of "armed men in frightening and unheard-of numbers" being summoned from the north, and Simon Stallworth, in a private letter dated June 21, 1483, wrote that 20,000 men from Richard and Buckingham were expected to arrive in London. The fact that the actual numbers that arrived were much smaller is immaterial: what counted was the fact that people were expecting more. I don't think the role fear played in the council's acceptance of the precontract story should be underestimated.


message 33: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
This is fascinating stuff. If so, who would be the source of the pre-marital contract "rumor"? Richard wanting to take the power for greed? Richard wanting it for the best of the kingdom - putting an adult on the throne instead of a child? Someone else manipulating Richard?

Oh for a time machine!


message 34: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I find the title of Mancini's work to indicate a certain bias against Richard and the Second Continuation of the Croyland Chronicle is supposedly riddled with errors.

We have reached a point at which traditionalists and Ricardians are fated to disagree endlessly, I fear. We each know the others' argument points and the rebuttals to them. Until Misfit finds us a time machine, I see no way to decide the issue.

The Londoners apparently had an irrational fear of the bestial Northerners whom they considered as little better than Scots. The contemporary description of the ill-armed and rag-tail crew which did finally reach the capital is almost funny. I suppose the southerners were remembering the days when Marguerite d'Anjou descended upon them with her brutal army; if so, I cannot blame them for their fear.


message 35: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Wouldn't that be great (the time machine, that is)!

Personally (and this is only my opinion; I don't pretend to be able to prove it), I think there might have been some hint of a sexual relationship between Edward IV and Eleanor Talbot, which Richard ran with, having convinced himself that England (and Richard) was best off with him as its king. I think he (or his followers) then manufactured a case, just as a case would be manufactured in the next century against Anne Boleyn.

But I'm giving away the plot of my novel!

Seriously, it's nice that this matter can be debated on this forum civilly. The last time this matter was debated on a Yahoo forum, it degenerated into schoolyard name-calling, which had the effect of ending the argument but not, as the person doing the name-calling thought, proving his point.

I'd never say there couldn't have been a precontract; Brian Wainwright, whose opinion I respect, makes a good case for there having been one. I've yet to be convinced, though. If some evidence turns up someday, though, I'll duly eat my hat.


message 36: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Susan, it is the maturity and the innate decency of this site and especially the people in this group which is the chief draw for me. I have grown very tired of childish language and behaviour.

I shall match you - the day it can be proved without question that Richard offed the little royal bastards, I shall cook up and consume a dish of crow. ;)


message 37: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
"Seriously, it's nice that this matter can be debated on this forum civilly."

This really has turned into a lively group - starting with Barb, Pat, Ikon and myself just needing a place to "natter" without running up comments on each other's reviews :o

"But I'm giving away the plot of my novel!"

Looking forward to it still, along with Brian's.


message 38: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Barb wrote: "Hey all,
Did you already know that when young George Neville died the properties that Richard Duke of Gloucester had been given by his brother the king would revert back to a member of the Neville..."


Comments have been flying so fast I missed this one. I haven't read as much recently as you have Barb but I did catch that and it's an interesting point. Would that we know for sure. But then, we'd be running out of novels too.



message 39: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments "starting with Barb, Pat, Ikon and myself "

Hey Misfit - we have thirty now!


message 40: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Ikonopeiston wrote: ""starting with Barb, Pat, Ikon and myself "

Hey Misfit - we have thirty now!"


Woohoo!



message 41: by Brian (new)

Brian (BrianWainwright) | 149 comments I could bore for England on the subject of the precontract, but the bottom line is it's inherently impossible to prove absolutely. Some *suggestive* evidence remains, but the real proof, if it existed, was almost certainly destroyed circa 1485/6.

I'm going to come at it from another angle, and point out Edward IV's great errors.

1. He did not marry Elizabeth publicly. Why not? In medieval terms it suggests bad faith, especially as he didn't do it to avoid being punished by an angry parent/king/other superior.

2. Having not married Elizabeth publicly, he failed either to get a papal dispensation (as his grandfather had done for his 'secret' marriage to Anne Mortimer) *or* to get Parliament to entail the crown on his son.

3. Technically, under English statute law, Edward V was not entitled to inherit land from his parents. (because of 1 and 2). Of course it may be argued that the crown is a special case, and that his crowning would have resolved the matter. Indeed it might be argued that his crowning would have resolved the matter even if he was illegitimate. (C.f. Elizabeth I.) There is no *right* answer.


message 42: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Point three is fascinating. It is like a lovely jawbreaker (gob stopper?) upon which one may suck for hours. Thank you.


message 43: by Brian (new)

Brian (BrianWainwright) | 149 comments The Statute of Merton is the basis of the law. In a nutshell, to inherit land it was necessary for the parents of the heir to have married in open church.

I always quote the leading case of Margaret Duchess of Clarence and others v James Lord Audley and Alianore his wife (1431) in which it was held that *even if* a bishop's court found Lady Audley ** legitimate, she would not be eligible to inherit her father's land. This was the decision of Parliament in the particular case, and makes it clear that *in matters of inheritance* canon law was not the be all and end all of these questions.

** Lady Audley was Constance of York's daughter by the Earl of Kent. She had been attempting to have herself declared legitimate by canon law, and had offered proof to a bishop's court that her parents had been married, albeit in secret.


message 44: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments One must only be grateful that we no longer are bound by these two often conflicting bodies of law. It is bad enough - in the States - to have to tease out the federal versus the state law confusions.

And here I thought you invented that singularly musical female name.

Were the legal decisions frequently bent or twisted to favour the party having the most influence at the time? Perhaps the canon/secular opinions gave enough wiggle room to provide cover for such games.


message 45: by Brian (new)

Brian (BrianWainwright) | 149 comments Alianore is (or rather was) a common variant of Eleanor. (Had Alianore Audley existed, this lady would have been her mother.)

Just as now, money and power could buy legal decisions. The various heirs of Edmund Earl of Kent (who included the Duke of York) were a much richer and powerful group than Lord Audley. However, though some aspects were left to canon law, common and statute law had a pretty firm grip on inheritance of land by this time.

As for the crown, Henry IV passed the first statute that purported to regulate the succession, and by Tudor times it was accepted that Parliament could change the succession, which of course it did whenever Henry VIII felt like it!

Irrespective of the status of Edward V, it is *arguable* that Richard III's parliamentary title was just as good as say, Henry IV's. In both cases, and in that of Henry VII, Parliament implicitly set aside alternative candidates.




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