Monday, 31 January 2011

A Man's World?

In the comments to the 23 January post Why the Tudors?, DorsetGirl said re: Cecily Neville, ‘a drama series with her as the protagonist would be epic, but I can imagine programme commissioners going, “Somebody’s mother?”’
Thinking about that, it occurred to me that, although the Middle Ages are seen as very much a man’s world, the story of the Wars of the Roses could very well be told from the point of view of the women. Many of them were powerful and influential in their own right, not merely the tools of their male relatives.

On the Lancastrian side:

Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, possibly the most ineffectual  king England ever had.

Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, the eventual winner.

Among the Yorkists, in addition to Cecily Neville:

Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. There were sound political reasons  for Edward to marry her, or someone like her - it was just unfortunate that she had so many relatives. Was she a rapacious woman, or did she have little choice but to build up her own power base at court, for protection against her enemies?

Isabel Neville, Duchess of Clarence, who might have been queen if her husband’s plotting had succeeded, and her sister Anne, who might have been a Lancastrian queen but in the end was a Yorkist one. Were they as ambitious as their father the Kingmaker, or were they merely  pawns?

Was Anne’s marriage to Richard of Gloucester a love match, as is usually shown in fiction, or was he just trying to acquire her estates?

Then there are the more shadowy characters - Eleanor Butler, Jane Shore, Margaret of Burgundy.

And finally Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and wife of Henry  VII.  Of all these women, possibly the one who had the least control over her life.

The fifteenth century isn’t my period, so I won’t be writing it. But it would be a good subject for someone.

No comments:

Post a Comment