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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Margaret, Rivers and Dorset
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2248  Thursday, 27 November 2003

From:           Tom Pendleton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Nov 2003 19:29:19 -0500
Subject: 14.2222 Margaret, Rivers and Dorset
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2222 Margaret, Rivers and Dorset

Laurie Richards' post handles much of this quite well.  But a couple of
further things.

A prime source of the confusion is that Shakespeare collapsed the
history of Edward IV's reign so drastically.  He achieved the crown in
1461 after the battle of Towton.  Up to this time the Woodvilles, Queen
Elizabeth's family, were Lancastrians.  Her husband, Sir John Grey died
fighting on that side at the second battle of St Alban's--in 3H6,
Shakespeare (or maybe Edward) gets it wrong and has him, as Sir Richard
Grey, dying on the Yorkist side--and her father, Lord Rivers,
historically received a pardon after Towton.  By Richard III,
Shakespeare has gotten things straight and the Queen's eldest brother
now holds the title of Lord Rivers.

The death of Rutland, who was seventeen in actuality, twelve in the
chronicles, and apparently even younger in Shakespeare, occurred in 1460
at the battle of Wakefield.  None of the four who characterize the death
as an atrocity should have any personal knowledge of it.  Hastings and
Rivers, both in their late teens, could have been there on opposite
sides, but there is no record that they were.  Dorset, as Laurie
Richards notes, would have been too young--actually about nine.  And
Buckingham prior to the time of Richard III had virtually no part in the
wars, and although he recalls accurately Northumberland's weeping
portrayed in 3H6, the tears were for the torment of Rutland's father,
the Duke of York.

Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville Grey in 1464 to the great and
greatly resented advantage of her family. But they did support Edward
about seven years later when the Earl of Warwick made common cause with
Queen Margaret to re-instate Henry VI.  Historically, Elizabeth W's
father and one of her brothers were executed by Warwick in 1469 (so it's
a close call whether her brother had actually succeeded to the title of
Lord Rivers in Act IV, scene v of 3H6).  When Edward secured his throne
at the battles of Barnet and then Tewkesbury, both the new Lord Rivers
and Dorset, now about 20, took part.  They are not on stage for the
murder of Margaret's son, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, but the
chronicles say they, as well as Hastings, were there.

There's another, and incoherent, jump in time to the opening of Richard
III.  Although Henry VI, who died in 1471, is just being buried,
Clarence is being sent to the Tower, which happened in 1477, and King
Edward is near his death in 1483. The deaths of Margaret's son and of
Rutland are respectively about ten and twenty years past, but they are
made to seem more recent. The Yorkists claim Margaret was punished
justly for Rutland, she claims they will be punished justly for her son,
and she foresees that Richard will do the punishing and then God will
punish Richard.  The Tudor dynasty is founded, and everybody (English)
lives happily ever after.

Tom Pendleton

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