I am very excited to welcome Sandra Worth to the blog today with a special guest post just for you! Plus I have a giveaway for a copy of her thought provoking book, Pale Rose of England. My review of it is HERE
Please welcome Sandra and enjoy the post!
Royal Marriages Past and Present
The countdown is on! The eyes of the world are on Prince William of England as he marries Kate Middleton, a commoner. Many will be watching the ceremony with excitement and celebrating the happy occasion with them. This is in sharp contrast to times past. Throughout history, such unions were frowned upon, and thwarted whenever possible. Great pressure was exerted to ensure that love rarely triumphed in royal circles.
When the American Mrs. Simpson, a twice-divorced commoner, was deemed unsuitable to be queen, William’s great-great uncle abdicated the throne in order to marry the woman he loved. The next generation saw a similar drama when William’s great aunt Margaret had to choose between love and duty. She wanted to wed Peter Townsend, a divorced commoner, but as Queen Elizabeth’s only sister, she stood in line of succession. In a decision she would live to regret, Margaret chose to give up the love of her life.
Marriages between commoners and royals, while rare, did happen. The first such union took place in 1396 when John, Duke of Lancaster married Katherine de Roet-Swynford, the daughter of a herald. Tongues wagged and royal eyebrows were raised, but John was only a duke and may have thought it wouldn’t matter in the long-run. In this, Fate was to prove him wrong. Eighty years later, the Lancastrian descendants of Katherine and John fought their Yorkist cousins for the throne in a devastating civil war. The victor was a nineteen year old Yorkist prince. Following in John’s footsteps, Edward scandalized England by marrying a commoner. Adding insult to injury, his bride was a widow from the enemy camp; an older woman with two children, and he married her in a secret ceremony. Months later, he presented his country with a fait accompli.
England was horrified. As it turned out, they had reason to be; this marriage would prove the undoing of the Plantagenet dynasty that had ruled England for nearly four hundred years, for Edward IV had married the beautiful – and odious – Elizabeth Woodville, mother of the princes in the Tower.
But what could be expected of a nineteen year old dashing young king with an oversupply of raging testosterone and the world at his feet? He was accustomed to having women swoon in his arms, and the lady wouldn’t submit to his charms. She insisted on keeping her virtue, telling him, “My lord, I may not be good enough to be your queen, but I am far too good to be your mistress.” Years later, another English beauty would take a cue from her, and history would attribute Elizabeth Woodville’s words to Anne Boleyn.
So what was a man to do, especially when that man was a king and accustomed having his way? He could have taken Elizabeth by force, but she was astute and gambled he wouldn’t. A genial young man, reared in the Age of Chivalry, Edward ascribed to the values exalted by King Arthur’s court; he had pride, and he cherished his honor. Neither could he deny himself something he wanted. He married her.
History has shown Elizabeth Woodville – the older woman so fair of face – to be malicious, wily, possessive, over-ambition, and greedy. Her needs were insatiable. Everyone she resented had to be brought down – and she resented everyone close to the king. The Kingmaker, Richard of Warwick, once the king’s strongest ally and best friend became his hardened enemy. Their struggle ripped the land apart in civil war. Warwick was killed in the battle, but not before he prophesied that no son of her blood would ever mount the throne of England.
He was proven right. After King Edward’s death, it turned out that Edward had been married when he took Elizabeth Woodville to wife. In fact, this was his second secret marriage. years earlier, Edward married a noblewoman who had refused to surrender her virtue. To protect her family’s honor, she took the veil instead of exposing the king’s bigamy, and died four years after Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.
Since Edward’s two sons were now bastards, the throne went to Richard of Gloucester. Not everyone believed the charge of bigamy against King Edward, however, and they sided with Henry Tudor when he challenged Richard III for the throne. What happened next is well known – Henry became Henry VII, and the Tudor dynasty was established. But no one knows what happened to the princes; they simply disappeared. It was thought that the older boy, Edward, died of an infection of the jaw, but rumors rampant that the younger prince, Richard, had survived. Ten years later, a remarkable young man of the right age, right appearance, and right attributes appeared on the scene. He was believed to be the true prince by all the crowned heads of Europe. From the behavior of all the royals involved including Henry Tudor himself, it would seem he was indeed who he claimed to be. He married the lovely princess, Lady Catherine Gordon, a cousin of James IV of Scotland, and came with her to England to fight for his rightful inheritance.
PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND relates this story, and that of Catherine, his wife. And it is quite a story.
For those interested in King Edward’s marriage to the commoner Elizabeth Woodville, that fascinating part of the saga is covered in my novel, THE ROSE OF YORK: LOVE & WAR.
Pale Rose of England and The Rose of York: Love & War are both available at Amazon.com
I do thank you Sandra for taking the time to write that post just for the readers of Broken Teepee. With all of the excitement surrounding the upcoming royal wedding it was interesting to learn of other royal marriages.
Now for the giveaway! I have one copy of Sandra’s book, Pale Rose of England for one lucky reader.
How do you win? It’s easy!
But first some rules:
Tell me if you knew of the tale of Perkin Warbeck before or not. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
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Recently moved from the rural life of Montana to the small city of Brattleboro, Vermont, Patty Woodland is navigating the urban life of sidewalks and neighbors once again. She will share life in her small city, the books she reads, and as always, the delicious food she cooks and bakes.
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