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The White Queen - BBC drama
January 15, 2014
8:02 pm
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Bob the Builder
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Boleyn said …So I actually doubt Stillington’s story anyway, because why wait to bring it up until everyone who would have known the truth of the matter was dead. If his conscious was troubling him that much surely he would have spoken out, when E4 admitted marrying E.W…

really, you really have to ask why anyone would be somewhat wary of accusing a king who, at the age of 18, had won the largest battle in English history and taken the crown and who’s enemies had an unfortunate tendancy to end up dead, of bigamy?

Stillington standing up and declaring Edward IV’s marrige to EW as being invalid because of his marrige to EB would be a very quick way for Stillington to lose a foot in height in the blink of an eye – or the swish of an axe – he would have to be certifiable to make such an allegation.

January 15, 2014
9:22 pm
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Boleyn
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Yes I agree Bob, but on the other hand Stillington was dismissed from E4 household in 1473, and the question is Why? He was inprisoned in 1478 for sedition. Surely E4 would have silenced him then if there was any truth in the rumours of a marriage with E.B not let him go. After all E4 had to think of his son’s inheritence.
I also have to ask why did he support Lambert Simnel he would have know that the boy was 2 years too young to be the Earl of Warwick., plus H7 had had him imprisoned straight after Bosworth and he would have known the real Earl of Warwick was in the tower. If he hadn’t seen him personally I’m sure he would have heard the guards and the servants gossip. I think he was in the tower until H7 had married Lizzy of York and was released shortly after. When the 1487 lambert Scandal was finally put down he fled to Oxford, hoping I guess for sanctuary but he was soon turned over to H7 and bunged back it the tower till his death in 1491.
I just find it hard to believe that he could make up such a story and hope to get away with it, without any proof what so ever. Nothing at all. the whole E.B/E4 marriage (loosely worded) seems to be totally based on hearsay. Which is inadmissible in a court of law. well it is in today’s courts.
I guess hearsay was as good as a confession back then, but with no evidence to back it up I can’t see how E.W marriage to E4 could be judged as null and void. But Stillington didn’t even give the name of the person who witnessed E4 and EB saying “we are married, now lets go to bed.”
If memory serves, when the Earl of Warwick put Jaquetta on trial for witchcraft he produced some evidence to try and prove his case, against her, as well as producing some witnesses, granted they were shot down in flames and the case collaped, but it has been know that cases like this have worked, where evidence and witnesses have been brought and paid for to get rid of people.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 16, 2014
7:35 am
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Jasmine
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Sorry Boleyn, but you still are assuming the vow was said in front of someone else. That was NOT necessary – only the bride and groom were needed and they said the vows to each other and (presumably) God then went to bed. That was it – a Medieval marriage, valid according to canon law. The reason a witness would have been sensible is because at the end of the day, proof of the marriage depended solely on the word of the two people exchanging vows and you can see how much trouble that would lead to.

With regard to what Stillington provided in the way of evidence, we do not know today what that was because it has been destroyed. However, whatever it was, it must have been sufficient to persuade Parliament.

Now one might argue that Parliament was forced to agree for some reason. However, I believe that whatever it was, it was convincing because Henry VII made no effort to disprove it or force his prisoner Stillington to retract it, instead he ordered the TR repealed and destroyed unread which was against normal Parliamentary practice. The extract in the Parliamentary Rolls recording this event says something along the lines of …so that memory of this Act shall be removed entirely… In other words, H7 had something to hide and I believe what he wanted to hide was the proof of the earlier marriage.

You could be right about Edward’s secret marriage to EW – there were witnesses and she had around a dozen brothers and sisters, so it would have been difficult to keep it quiet.

January 16, 2014
7:42 am
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Jasmine
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Here is the actual quote from the Parliamentary records about the Titulus Regius:

And that it be ordeined by the said auctoritee, that the said Bill be cancelled, destrued, and that the said Acte, Record and enrollinge, shall be taken and avoided out of the Roll and Records of the said Parliament of the said late King, and brente, and utterly destroyed.

And over this, be it ordeined by the same auctoritee, that every pesoune haveing anie Coppie or Remembraunces of the said Bill or Acte, bring unto the Chaunceller of England for the tyme being, the same Coppies and Remembraunces, or utterlie destrue theym, afore the Fest of Easter next comen, upon Peine of ymprissonment, and makeing fyne and ransome to the Kinge atte his will.

So that all thinges said and remembred in the said Bill and Acte thereof maie be for ever out of remembraunce, and allso forgott.

And over thys, be it ordeined and enacted by the said auctoritee, that thys Acte, ne any thing conteined in the same, be anie way hurtfull or prejudiciall to the Acte of stablishment of the Croune of England to the Kinge and to the Heyres of hys body begotten.”

So you can see that there was no attempt to rebut the evidence, only that the thing should be hushed up and every copy destroyed. We are so lucky that a single copy was left and that wasn’t found until the 17th century, otherwise we would have no idea at all what had been in the TR.

January 16, 2014
10:24 am
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Boleyn
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Thank you Jasmine.
And yes I agree that E4 and E.B would/could have made vows between themselves, with no one else present. If that was the case however, how did Stillington know about it? Would E4 have told him, that he had promised himself to E.B? Well I suppose that is possible, but surely if E4 had made the vow of marriage to E.B, that vow would become null and void once she entered the convent, all be it as a layperson. I believe that even a as a layperson, she would have had to take a vow of chastity. It was rare for a married woman to take a vow of chastity, but it did happen in 1413 Margery Kempe managed to negotiate a celibate marriage, and Stanley happily allowed M.B to take the vow of chastity 1499, which she renewed in 1504.
This is something I have recently read (granted it’s a Wiki thing, not always reliable)
The betrothal cannot be documented beyond the account rehearsed in Titulus Regius, and Richard never attempted to have the precontract authenticated by a church court, the proper venue for such a case” Anne Crawford takes the view that any actual precontract with Eleanor Talbot is unlikely. If it had occurred before her marriage to Thomas Butler it would have been invalidated by the marriage. She suggests that the story may have originated with discussions between Edward’s father Richard, Duke of York and Elizabeth’s father John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury of a possible marriage, while both men were serving in France. But even that “seems hardly likely”.
Any valid precontract would most likely have been made in the early phase of Edward’s reign, but the fact that Eleanor did not come forward when Edward married his queen militates against it. She also considers it odd that Eleanor’s family did not support Richard’s claims about the precontract. Since Edward was “not stupid enough” to have been unaware that any precontact would threaten his children’s claim to the throne, if it had existed he could easily have applied to the Pope to free himself of it, which would have been the action of “any prudent king and his advisors”. Michael Alexander argues that a precontract of marriage to Eleanor Talbot would not have affected the legitimacy of Edward’s sons, since they were born after she died, her death negating any marriage.
However from what little we know of Eleanor, when her husband died, Lord Sudeley stole the lands that she now owned upon her husband’s death. Somehow Eleanor made her plea to E4 for justice, E4 promptly too them away from Lord Sudeley, which then E4 promised to return to her on the condition she slept with him. If this is the case it seems to common way of E4 getting woman into bed. As this is more or less the same tactic used by E.W.

There is also another one of E4’s conquest who reared her head very early on in E4 marriage. A lady called Elizabeth Lucy, who is also rumoured to have had a son, by E4 he was called Arthur Plantagenent Viscount Lisle. The duchess Cecily was so annoyed by the marriage of E4 to E.W that she had hoped that E.L would admit to a precontract with her therefore invalidating E4/EW’s marriage very early on. E.L strongly denied any precontract, so putting the tin hat on the duchess’s plans.
However she did say this Lucy denied they had been officially engaged but said,
His grace spoke such loving words to her, she verily hoped he would have married her, and if it had not been for such kind words she would never have shown such kindness to let him to kindly get her with child.”
Rumours of E.L also surfaced when E.B was mentioned. It is said that EL was E4’s mistress of a couple of years, and that she bore him at least 2 children.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 16, 2014
10:41 am
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Jasmine
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Boleyn, I really suggest you read John Ashdown-Hill’s book about Eleanor Butler. It deals with a lot of issues very clearly.

The fact that Margaret Beaufort swore a vow of chastity did not invalidate her marriage to Stanley.

The Elizabeth Lucy red herring was set up by More, who pretended she was the lady referred to in the TR. There was never any question that she was ‘married’ by Edward.

With regard to the fact that EW’s sons were born after the death of EB – this does not, according to the canon law at the time, make them legitimate. This is because it was not possible to contract a second, valid marriage with a woman a man had already married falsely. I don’t know the church reasoning for this, but they did not allow it. On that basis, E4 could not have married EB again after EB’s death in any way that would make their union valid.

January 16, 2014
11:56 am
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Boleyn
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Thank you Jasmine. I will certainly look for the book, as it sounds very interesting. I will confess I don’t know a lot EB, but there again I don’t think any of us know much about her.
However it doesn’t explain what Stillington hoped to acheive by putting the cat among the pigeons. I believe he had already been given a position in E5’s household, so it wasn’t for that reason. He was also one of the more senior prelates of the church, so it wasn’t to get up another rung of the ecclesiastical ladder either.
Was it perhaps a revenge thing against E4/EW for being dismissed from E4’s household in 1473. I haven’t seen an explaination to why he was tossed out. But then why did he then turn around a few years after Bosworth to support Lambert Simnel. It seems to me that Stillington was a vicious vindictive, resentful and spiteful, snake in the grass type of man, out to make as much trouble as possible, and get a thrill from doing it. That’s purely an opinion mind you.
Who was it that whispered that E4 was a bastard? and again why?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 16, 2014
12:34 pm
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Jasmine
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The story that Edward IV was illegitimate was started by Warwick during his rebellion. His elder daughter was married to Clarence, who, if E4 was a bastard, would have been the next rightful king.

With regard to your view about Stillington – it’s a bit harsh. Various people were ‘sacked’ and reinstated to various government posts – it went with the territory. Stillington was an able canon lawyer and if you look at his life in detail, there were times when he was the ‘right’ man for a particular job. As to why he spoke up when he did – well, I guess you might say as a Bishop, his conscience troubled him at plans for the coronation of a king he knew to be a bastard. All the while E4 was alive, the question over the legitimacy or otherwise of his sons did not arise, but once he was dead, it was a whole different ball game.

Perhaps Edward thought he would outlive the Bishop, after all E4 was only 42 when he died, and Stillington was considerably older and had suffered from periods of ill health in recent years.

January 16, 2014
6:35 pm
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Boleyn
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Thank you again Jasmine.
I got to admit the Yorkist rule was a complecated tangle. In fact in my opinion it has probably given rise to a lot more “what’s, why’s and how’s” then any other period in history.
Warwick seems to me full of anger, spite, envy and malice towards E4 after his marriage with E.W became known. I guess I can understand his anger. As Warwick had put in a lot of hard work for E4 to marry a Royal bride, only for E4 to make a fool of him right at the very moment when the deal was all set to be rubber stamped.
I’m guessing that Warwick hoped he would be able to rule England through E4.
However when he made the accusation/or insinuated to George that E4 was a bastard did he think of what the consquences would be to his aunt? If he had managed to make this accusation stick Duchess Cecily would be branded a whore, and the kingdom had been turned upside down and inside out all to place a bastard on the throne? That’s of course if Warwick had been able to prove it.
Mind you having said that he wouldn’t be the first bastard to sit on the throne, that accolade goes the conqueror. Along with the names of William the Conqueror and William Duke of Normandy, he was also known as William the Bastard.
You could be right about Stillington, but I still feel he didn’t act out of conscious after E4 death I feel there was something a little more sinister to his motives. I’ve no proof however so it’s just an opinion.
R3 taking the throne in light of what he had heard, would be the only sensible thing to have done, even if E5 ruled I feel that there would still be troubles in and around the country, as child rulers always brought headaches for the guardians, in one form or other. You only have to look at the Stuart Kings to see how bloody and turbulant their history was, with a succesion of child rulers/regents.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

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