Richard III discussion

Group Reads > The White Queen July 1483 - April 1485 and author's note

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message 1: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Please discuss here.

message 2: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Questions questions, mostly about George.

Did he go around telling anyone and everyone that his mother had an affair and Edward was illegitimate?

Was he given a choice as to the method of his execution? i.e. George chose the butt of malmsey.

Was his execution publicly witnessed including Elizabeth. Or was that a very bizarre and ill-placed switch on the POV?

Did Richard have Westminster Abbey surrounded by armed men in boats?

message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Yes, George did spread the rumor that Edward was illegitimate--or at least that was one of the charges against him at his trial.

No one knows exactly how he died, but the common rumor was that he died in a butt of malmsey or was drowned in a bathtub of malmsey. In her portrait, his daughter Margaret wears a little barrel on her wrist.

It was a private execution. I don't think any record exists of who witnessed it.

The delegation that came to persuade Elizabeth to let her younger son out of sanctuary arrived by boats and was accompanied by plenty of armed men. After a plot formed to take the girls out of sanctuary, Westminster Abbey was surrounded by armed men, who tightly guarded who came in or out.

message 4: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Thank you. I am still pretty underwhelmed. Should finish up later today.

message 5: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments George began repeating what had been a very small and not widespread rumor that Edward was really the son of an archer in the Duke of York's forces. One thing that those willing to believe the rumor believed lent it credence was that Richard of York was rather short, dark and stocky, and as Edward grew, clearly he didn't favor his father. It was never widely believed, however.

George's execution was kept very private indeed, not only within the Tower (vs within the Tower precincts, which was more common -- i.e. Tower Green, where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, was considered 'private' because the crowds couldn't witness it) but, it was said, within some kind of 'privy' chamber. From day one, it was said he had drowned in a butt of malmsey (kind of wine). In part that was a dark joke referring to the fact that Clarence had become a drunkard; but there was a story, possibly apocryphal, that George had either been asked to select his own method of execution or had, in the past, made a joking reference to hoping to die in a butt of malmsey. He certainly wasn't given a public execution of any kind, and I can't imagine any women being present, or Edward being the kind of guy who would allow his wife to be present.

message 6: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Thanks Suzanne. PG does have it that George was given a choice of execution and he chose the butt of malmsey. And unless PG made a POV switch in a most bizarre fashion as I read it Elizabeth witnessed it. I wasn't sure at first until after the execution was described the very next paragraph was Elizabeth's narrative.

Rather odd what she did about the *relationship* between R3 and Bess.

She does say in her notes that Jacquetta was tried and convicted of witchcraft. She also says that this was her most fictional novel to date (or something similar).

message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments I'd love to know where she got the misinformation about Jacquetta being convicted (not to mention being let off thanks to Margaret of Anjou's intervention!). It's certainly not in any of the books that she cites in her author's note, as I recall.

Her handling of the whole Jacquetta thing was rather weird, I thought. Edward sends this note to Elizabeth in 1469 saying that Jacquetta is in danger of being accused of witchcraft, but everyone pretty much ignores this, and nothing more is heard about the matter until 1471 (if I'm remembering the book correctly). Seems that the editor should have stepped in.

message 8: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments I'd like to know how she squares that conviction with the FACT of the enquiry that ended in Jacquetta being explicitly cleared!!
This crosses the line, for me. Fictional license is OK when we just don't and can't know -- the princes, for instance, or whether Elizabeth I was really a virgin. History doesn't tell us. But while history doesn't tell us that there was a witchcraft conviction, that absence doesn't provide enough ground for her to say there was, IMO. Because I would imagine that any such conviction would have been noted and the records would have survived. We know about Edward I's widow being locked up for 'witchcraft', we know about Eleanor Cobham, and those were decades earlier. So I find it incredible (in the literal sense) that this could have happened and left no trace. Blech.

message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Yes, and Gregory also distorts the time scheme involved. The accusation of witchcraft was made in 1469 and Jacquetta was cleared in early 1470. Gregory moves the actual accusation and "conviction" to the Readeption of late 1470-early 1471, apparently so Margaret of Anjou can intervene.

It also irritated me that she had Elizabeth's family being in the Lancastrian camp when Elizabeth and Edward met in 1464. Elizabeth's father had gone over to the Yorkists after Towton and had even been made a member of Edward IV's council.

message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments I guess the Red vs White Rose conflict was too good to ignore... So the witchcraft allegation was pre-Tewkesbury?? But even so, how could Margaret of Anjou have intervened? She was hardly in the country before the battle (what, about two weeks??), and afterward she would hardly have been in a position to intervene.
Now, if the allegation had come in the 1450s, that would have made sense. Margaret and Jaquetta had been close since the former's early days in England and were relatives as well as allies at the time. I can't see, however, how Margaret would have tried to help the mother in law of the man who usurped her son's claim to the throne, not to mention the grandmother of the new 'prince of wales'! If anything, she would now see Jaquetta's family as a threat.

message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Suzanne wrote: "I guess the Red vs White Rose conflict was too good to ignore... So the witchcraft allegation was pre-Tewkesbury?? But even so, how could Margaret of Anjou have intervened? She was hardly in the co..."

Well, as I recall, in Gregory, Margaret is still in France when she gives Warwick's government the order to release Jacquetta. Because, of course, Margaret had nothing else important on her mind at the time.

message 12: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments That 'snap' you just heard? My credulity stretched past its breaking point.

message 13: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
You two are having way too much fun. The world is safe, another five star showed up on Amazon. Rather brief though,

message 14: by Robin (new)

Robin | 142 comments I gave it 3 stars on Amazon.

message 15: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "I gave it 3 stars on Amazon."

I just finished reading the latest ones. Thought that was you. There's a two star up from my friend kellie. She's pretty good at scathing a book that's ticked her off.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) I think some authors get "too big" for editors. And their books suffer for it.

message 17: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments I'm thinking this is a three-star book for me. It's not actively bad enough to be two stars.

Question for anyone who knows about this stuff: In the beginning of the book, Jacquetta keeps talking about Elizabeth being summoned to court or about sending her other daughters to court. Now, my understanding was that ladies attending a court (vs just accompanying their menfolk serving the king in some capacity) could only be summoned when there was a queen. (i.e., a bachelor king wouldn't summon women to court, although the womenfolk of noblemen attending him would be there.) Nor could young women just "be sent" by their mothers to court -- their presence had to be requested or their service required. Of course, nothing stopping them from visiting relatives at court or in London, but the way that this has repeatedly been phrased niggles at me.

Can anyone shed any further light on this? Am I being hypersensitive or....

And Susanna, I think you're right about that.

message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments Suzanne wrote: "I'm thinking this is a three-star book for me. It's not actively bad enough to be two stars.

Question for anyone who knows about this stuff: In the beginning of the book, Jacquetta keeps talking a..."

I think that's right--there would have to be a queen for Elizabeth to attend in order for her to be summoned to court. I suppose Jacquetta could be making the assumption that Edward would soon have a queen (that is, a queen other than Elizabeth) for her daughters to wait upon--I don't remember the dialogue in question.

message 19: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments She was saying that if the Lancasters won back the crown -- I think it was in the context of Rivers being summoned to take men to Edward in one of the 1464 battles. That would make a bit of sense -- she and Margaret were close, history sez, so I suppose she could just say, hey Maggie, here are a couple of my girls who need some work to keep them out of trouble. Or something like that!

But there is also an earlier reference to Edward possibly summoning Elizabeth "to court"; can't remember if he says it or her family comments on the possibility.

message 20: by Robin (new)

Robin | 142 comments I don't see how ladies could be "summoned" to Court if there was no Queen. Unless my understanding is completely off (which is always possible), wasn't coming to serve and help the Queen THE reason that ladies came to Court in the first place? If there was no Queen, there would be no one for the ladies to serve.

But it was in reference to if the Lancasters regained the throne that would make a bit more sense as there was a Lancastrian Queen.

message 21: by Brian (new)

Brian (brianwainwright) | 149 comments Slow to pick up on this, but Robin's understanding is quite correct.

Women might attend the court if a) they were members of the royal house themselves or b)(possibly) in the role of wives of men who had cause to be there or (c) if they had personal business there, for example a widow chasing up her dower rights or whatever. But bachelor kings were not in the habit of summoning random gentlewomen to court for the hell of it.

As an aside, one of the complaints against Richard II was that he kept 'too many bishops and ladies at court.'

message 22: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (chatternyc) | 81 comments Too many bishops? tsk tsk tsk... :-)

But yes, that was my understanding of the matter, too. The kind could request that someone attend their family member, or travel to London, I suppose, so that she would be more readily available, but not to court. Even in Henry VIII's day, when there was no queen (as in the interregnum between Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves) there were no women in formal attendance at court.

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