Richard Armitage / Richard III rumble, Week 11!

kingrichard-alfie-bearbSince last week, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has opened for general audience viewing, and someone [left] feels like he’s not getting enough attention!

Nonetheless, I’ve been congratulating Richard Armitage right and left. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Be that as it may, the Richard III excavation story goes on. We have lots of updates from the King Richard Armitage initiative, including the tantalizing possibility that the results as to the identity of the remains found in Leicester are already known (despite official denials of the rumors).

Sign the petition to support Richard Armitage’s ambitions to realize a Richard III project! What a great way to congratulate him on his success in The Hobbit!

***

And now, to the group read. As always, links to the FB and Twitter discussions are found at the end of this post.

29455[Right: “The Flight of Jane Shore” (1865) by Valentine Cameron Prinsep.]

Last Week: TSIS, Book II, ch. 14 and Book III, ch. 1-4 covered events from Anne and Richard‘s wedding to Edward IV’s liaison with Jane Shore, from sometime in 1472 until November 1473. Anne and Richard wed (Book II, ch. 14) and move to Middleham. Book III, titled “Lord of the North,” opens with Richard’s governance of the North of England. Richard met and spurned the mother of his illegitimate daughter, Kate (Book III, ch. 1); the Gloucesters kept Christmas at Middleham (ch. 2), where Anne was pregnant. In June 1473, Anne’s mother, the Countess of Warwick, left sanctuary (ch. 3) and learned her daughter had had a son, Edward; and we met Richard’s illegitimate son, John of Gloucester. Finally, in November 1473 (ch. 4), we met again Will Hastings, and for the first time his twenty-two-year-old mistress, Jane Shore, who jumps into bed with Edward IV.

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 6.30.57 PM[Left: A midwife holds Jesus in an initial from the fifteenth-century Sherborne Missal, BL AddMss, 74236, fol 36. Source.]

This week: TSIS, Book III, ch. 5-9 take us from May, 1475, to April, 1477. We begin with the mustering of an army under Richard’s banner (ch. 5) to join Edward’s campaign against the French, undertaken to improve public opinion in England by pursuing his claims on the French throne. Anne is said to have miscarried. Véronique (Penman’s madeup character) is revealed as the lover of Francis Lovell, an interesting choice because some historians think that the mother of John of Gloucester might have been one of Anne’s ladies in waiting. We join the English armies on campaign Burgundy in August, 1475 (ch. 6), where they are at odds with their Burgundian allies and threaten France but are bought off by Louis XI, the French king; Edward is happy about this turn of events but Richard is sour. Phillippe de Commynes reappears (we have previously discussed his value as a historical source), having abandoned the Burgundian diplomatic service to work for the French crown. Back at Middleham in July, 1476 (ch. 7), a pregnant Anne is writing letters, referring to her sister Isobel‘s pregnancy, the death of her uncle, the Archbishop of York, and unrest among a population made unhappy by the decision for truce rather than war with the French. She refers to yet another miscarriage, and by the end has miscarried a third time, although Richard, newly arrived from France, consoles her and tells her he’s relieved she’s still alive. The Gloucesters enter York in January, 1477 (ch. 8), to engage in the expected charitable activities of nobles, to learn that Isobel, brought to bed of a son, had died, and of the sudden, shocking death of Charles the Bold (remember, he’s married to Edward and Richard’s sister, Margaret). Anne and Richard ride to Tewkesbury to attend the obsequies for Isobel, and encounter George/Clarence, apparently driven to the verge of madness by grief. A marriage is proposed between Margaret’s stepdaughter, Mary, and George, which Edward rejects in favor of Anthony Woodville, his wife’s brother (Mary would eventually — wisely — marry a Habsburg). Finally (ch. 9), the midwife who delivered Isobel, Ankarette Twynyho, is charged with murder via poison by George and summarily executed, a contravention of justice that Edward simply cannot ignore, as Cecily Neville explains in a letter to Margaret.

***

I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be under greater time pressure than last week, but there you have it. Herewith some random observations from the historian’s standpoint:

clarence3[Left: The commingled bones of George and Isobel at Tewkesbury Abbey. Source.]

In ch. 7, Penman takes up the theme of the perils of medieval pregnancy, referring to Isobel’s last childbed (and related death), the death of Rob Percy’s wife, and, finally, to repeated miscarriages that she postulates Anne might have suffered. This last possibility seems likely, but no sources exist that substantiate either miscarriages or any other live births from Anne and Richard’s union. The main extant source on the quality of Anne and Richard’s marriage, John Rous, states that it was unhappy, but as Michael Hicks notes, Rous is not reliable on this matter. The continuator of the Croyland Chronicle (who was in a position to know, and whom we talked about as a source a few weeks ago when discussing the question of Anne’s whereabouts shortly before appearance in sanctuary) notes, interestingly, that Richard continued to seek Anne’s bed until shortly before her death in 1485 — although this could have been just as much an act of desperation as one of love. Richard and Anne needed an heir — and even though by that point, she had not had a recorded live birth since at least 1477 and possibly longer, she certainly would have been just as aware of this matter as Richard. Whether or not Richard was kind to Anne over her apparent difficulties, which certainly would have been attributed to her and not to him by contemporaries, both of them would have had reasons to seek each other out — and a willingness to do this testifies to mutual agreement as to a necessary familial bond to be sealed with offspring. Perhaps not the romance of legend, but still telling, and probably much more typical of the noble sexual and marital unions of the fifteenth century.

Narratively interesting here: although this chunk of TSIS is supposed to substantiate Richard’s role as “Lord of the North,” much of it is still written from Anne Neville’s perspective. In ch. 5, Penman introduces us to one of the major sources for understanding Anne’s life — a year of surviving account books from the Gloucesters. This sort of (usually more plentiful than in this particular case) source had typically been ignored by historians as uninteresting, but pushes for a quantitative social history and women’s history after the 1970s in western Europe and North America meant that these sources were looked at again as ways into understanding women’s lives. If you read German, Spanish, or French, there’s an excellent excavation of the life of Goethe’s paramour, Christiane, on the basis of their household account books by Sigrid Damm (unfortunately never translated into English) that I can roundly recommend as a great example of this sort of history. The problem with Anne is that, yet again, she appears unusually rarely even in sources like this, where we’d expect her to appear. Where she does appear, significantly, is in accounts for her clothing purchases, where the amounts of money spent on her wardrobe and the type of items purchased suggest that no expense was spared. Yet, as Michael Hicks notes, she is noticeably absent from other places in surviving records where one might expect to find her — most noticeably, in the city records of York, which never, among the references made to Richard asking for patronage or other consideration, refer to her a single time.

12-3-york-play-fig-251[Left: York mystery play, performed by one of the York guilds, ms from the third quarter of the fifteenth-century. BL MS Additional 35290. Source.]

The visit of the Gloucesters to York in ch. 8 is another moment taken from a source that refers to Anne — the records of the Corpus Christi Guild. This was an organization founded for the staging of plays that celebrated the holiday of Corpus Christi. Anne and Richard joined the guild in 1477.

OK, embarrassing, but I’m out of time. Will pick up on the Gloucesters’ piety sometime.

***

No silly quiz this week either. I’m sorry. See you next week for TSIS, Book III, ch. 10-14.

***

The Sunne in Splendour Group Read continues on Sunday night at 9 p.m., U.S. East Coast time, and continuing Sunday nights through February.

Directions for veterans of #ArmitageWatch are found here.

Participate via the Institute of Armitage Studies facebook page, here. You can sign up there for a reminder to come and chat on facebook, too.

If you want to sign up for Twitter in order to participate in the chat, but haven’t yet, an explanation of procedures is found at the bottom of this post. The tweetchat “room” for this event will be here.

The chat is free form — come to tweet your impressions, or even a favorite quote from the first five chapters of the book.

~ by Servetus on December 17, 2012.

2 Responses to “Richard Armitage / Richard III rumble, Week 11!”

  1. […] Last time: TSIS, Book III, ch. 5-9 covered May, 1475, to April, 1477. We began (ch. 5) with Richard preparing to join Edward’s campaign against the French, Anne miscarrying, and Véronique in love with Francis Lovell. In August 1475, we joined the English armies in France (ch. 6), where they were bought off of their belligerence, which Richard resented. Back at Middleham in July, 1476 (ch. 7), a pregnant Anne reviewed conditions in England and referred to yet another miscarriage; Richard was most concerned for his wife. The Gloucesters entered York in January, 1477 (ch. 8) to learn that Isobel, brought to bed of a son, had died; Anne and Richard rode to Tewkesbury to attend the obsequies and encountered George/Clarence, clinging to the edge of reason. Finally (ch. 9), we learn via a letter from Cecily Neville to her daughter that George’s execution of Ankarette Twynyho, the midwife who delivered Isobel will not be ignored by the crown. […]

    Like

  2. […] Last time: TSIS, Book III, ch. 5-9 covered May, 1475, to April, 1477. We began (ch. 5) with Richard preparing to join Edward’s campaign against the French, Anne miscarrying, and Véronique in love with Francis Lovell. In August 1475, we joined the English armies in France (ch. 6), where they were bought off of their belligerence, which Richard resented. Back at Middleham in July, 1476 (ch. 7), a pregnant Anne reviewed conditions in England and referred to yet another miscarriage; Richard was concerned for his wife. The Gloucesters entered York in January, 1477 (ch. 8) to learn that Isobel, brought to bed of a son, had died; Anne and Richard rode to Tewkesbury to attend the obsequies and encountered George/Clarence, clinging to the edge of reason. Finally (ch. 9), we learn via a letter from Cecily Neville to her daughter that George’s execution of Ankarette Twynyho, the midwife who delivered Isobel, will not be ignored by the crown. […]

    Like

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