(National Portrait Gallery, London)
#1. “Apart from the Holbein evidence, does “new” documentary evidence exonerate Richard III from the charge of having murdered his two nephews?”
Apart from the Holbein allegations, you ask if “new” documentary evidence exonerates Richard III from the charge of having murdered Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. The short answer is ‘No’. However, if DNA findings are positive it means that new evidence can be added to old evidence that will exonerate Richard III for all time. In the event, we will request further instructions from the inquiry. For the present, we continue to test ALL evidence by NIET criteria. The aim and objective is to plan on paper and build on rock.
To this end, I offer for the first time some seventy or more pages of abstracts from the files of new NIET positive and negative evidence entitled The Princes and the King : Richard III. The pages are divided in “Parts”, 1 through 8.
¶ Part One
The present reader, like many other people to-day, may not be surprised that our on-going method of inquiry has produced further new evidence of the life and times of Richard III.
In this, perhaps we may begin by showing certain "new" material in a famous painting, one more remarkable 'door which is not a door', in the National Portrait Gallery, London : Portrait of King Richard the Third. (We will explain and make clear the decrypts and cryptosystem in “Part Eight : Postscript”). For the present, we shall enter once again into the ancient enigma by way of this new door, which I will describe and interpret, if I may, in my most pleasant and on-going role as a 'pointer-out-of-things.' The unknown artist tells us :
The lines of Edward I and Edward II are broken. Richard III, King of England, legally married and in unbroken line of Edward III, reveals the extremity of Edward IV and the impediment to Edward V.
Now, what does it mean ? We shall say, on a balance of probability, that it probably means what it says : that Richard III was the legally married rightful heir to the English throne in unbroken line of descent from Edward III (now that the royal lines from Edward I and Edward II were broken) and that he revealed the extreme behaviour of his brother, Edward IV, and the illegitimacy of his nephew, Edward V.
It just so happens, and by now the reader may not be in the least surprised, that the royal lines of descent from Edward I (1239-1307) (See : Footnote No. 1) and Edward II (1284-1327) (See : Footnote No. 2) were now indeed 'broken'. The male line now descended from Edward III (1312-1377), in unbroken line, to three brothers : first, Edward IV (1440-1483) ; then, George, Duke of Clarence (1449-1478) ; and then, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III (1452-1485), and their legal offspring. (See : “General History”, CHARTS I through VIII)
With the death of Edward IV, in 1483, the line of descent from Edward III passed first to the sons of Edward IV, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, "our" two princes ; then to Edward, Earl of Warwick (1475-1499), the only son of George, the late Duke of Clarence. This young Edward, just eight years old in 1483, was merely disbarred by the attainder of his late father (attainted by his paternal uncle, Edward IV), which had not been reversed. It meant that if young Edward, Earl of Warwick, was permanently disbarred, and if Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, were proven to be illegitimate as alleged : then, Richard of Gloucester was the rightful male heir next in line of descent from Edward III. There was one more nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, son of Richard's sister Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk, whose claims Richard recognized.
The proliferation of names and dates is, perhaps, slightly confusing. However, if we bear in mind the single salient fact derived from the evidence produced so far, that on the day of Richard's ascension to the throne, the controversy surrounding the matter of the succession in each one of the cases described above had not been resolved in an open way -- we may now usefully return to the new evidence in the National Portrait Gallery painting.
The first question we propose to consider is what precisely was this 'extremity' of Edward IV, which we may interpret as 'extreme behaviour'. In this we have three possible options, at least. Option No. 1 : the Bill of Attainder and subsequent remarkable execution of his brother, George, on grounds of 'unspecified treason'. Option No. 2 : the alleged marriage of Edward IV to Lady Eleanor Butler, in secret, at some unknown time before he married Elizabeth Woodville. And the third possible option, Option No. 3 : Edward's later marriage, once more in secret, to Elizabeth Woodville. Lastly, there is, of course, the alternative possibility of some other and altogether unknown option or options.
But these multiple possible options present us with certain distinct difficulties. A quick glance at the painting does not suggest multiple 'extremities', as one might perhaps expect, but merely the one singular 'extremity' of Edward IV. If it means Edward's execution of his brother, George, there is no supporting evidence seen in the painting. Neither do we see any evidence of extreme behaviour in the case of Option No. 2 : Edward's alleged marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler, when Edward was free to marry whomsoever he might choose. However, there is remarkable evidence in the case of Option No. 3 : that the 'extremity' means Edward's bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville when still precontracted in marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler. We will return to this later. For the present, the ring with a ruby is telling us that this descendant of Edward III, Richard III, unlike his elder brother, Edward IV, was indeed legally married. In this, the central political point made by the artist, as we should by now expect, is on the centre line : Richard revealed the impediment to Edward V. And we have certain evidence to show that Richard did indeed reveal this since it is inscribed in great detail in the Rolls of Parliament. (Rotuli Parliamentorum , Vol. VI, pp. 240-242).
I have to draw attention that the interpretation still does not work unless we are prepared to take one more step. If we take that step we enter into the parliament chamber in Westminster Hall and a members' protest in favour of the right of the mother of parliaments to be kept informed of certain actions, aims and intentions of the monarch. In Option No. 1 : Edward is not reported to have offered any compelling reason to parliament for the startling execution of his younger brother, George. Edward merely announced a case of 'unspecified treason', as already described and made clear, without any attempt at further explanation. It means that the matters of fact were, in fact, withheld from Parliament by the monarch. In Option No. 2 : there is the alleged precontracted marriage of Edward to Lady Eleanor Butler, once more without informing Parliament. And in the derived possible Option No. 3 : there is the alleged bigamous marriage of Edward to Elizabeth Woodville, again in secret, and only later informed to Parliament. Finally, we have to draw attention that Richard similarly did not inform the parliament of certain matters relating to "our" two princes. It means Parliament's 'right to know' was resisted by Richard III, presumably, and this remarkable painting has preserved Parliament's reservations on the matter for posterity.
We shall say, and the reader may perhaps agree, that the alleged precontract to Lady Eleanor Butler is the crux of "our" case -- and the odd lack of conclusive proof, one way or the other, at the heart of all that was to follow. We shall also say, since no conclusive evidence has been produced to-date, leaving the case open to renewed examination, we intend to re-examine the case by "notionality" criteria. It means, for better or worse, systematic investigation of : (1) the alleged birth of a son to Lady Eleanor Butler, by Edward IV, in or about 1462 ; (2) the new conjecture of the continued existence of Lady Eleanor Butler in 1483 ; (3) the cover names and false identities of Lady Eleanor Butler and her son, their lives and deaths ; and, (4) their case officer(s). Lastly, we shall say that the following best-fit hypothesis takes account of all known material evidence, positive and negative, and we will examine this evidence in the light of the new evidence of the supposed survival of the two princes. Let us now perhaps return to our imaginary courtroom. We are about to make our opening address in, perhaps, the definitive trial of a king. As the case unfolds and before it ends, we may learn more about Richard --- as a man.
Footnote No. 1: 'By his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, Edward I had four sons : John and Henry, who died in infancy ; Alfonso, who lived to the age of 12 years ; and Edward, who succeeded him ; and nine daughters, four of whom died young. The others were : Eleanor, born in 1266, betrothed to Alfonso of Aragon (Foedera, ib. 214), married Henry III, count of Bar, in 1293, and died in 1298 ; Joanna, born at Acre in 1272, betrothed in 1278 to Hartmann, son of the Emperor Rudolph (ib. 1067), who was drowned in 1281, married first, Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester, in 1289, and secondly, in 1296, against the will of her father, a simple knight, Ralph of Monthermer, who thus obtained the Earldom of Gloucester (HEMINGBURGH, ii. 70, records how she defended her conduct in making this marriage), she died in 1307 ; Margaret, born in 1275, married John, afterwards duke of Brabant, in 1290, and died in 1318 ; Mary, born in 1279, took the veil at Amesbury in 1284 somewhat against the wish of her father, who yielded in this matter to the urgent request of the queen-mother ; she was alive in 1328 (TRIVET, p. 310; Monasticon, ii. 237-50) ; Elizabeth, born at Rhuddlan, in 1282, and so called the 'Welshwoman' ('Walkiana'. COTTON. p 163), married first, John, Count of Holland, in 1296, and secondly, Humphrey Bohun, fourth earl of Hereford, in 1302, and died in 1316. By his second wife, Margaret, who survived him, he had two sons, Thomas [q.v.] earl of Norfolk, born at Brotherton in 1300, and Edmund [q.v.] earl of Kent, born in 1301, and a daughter who died in infancy. (See : Oxford English Dictionary, Edward I, p. 456). Clickè”Back”
Footnote No. 2: Edward's family by his wife, Isabella of France, daughter of Philippe le Beau, consisted of (1) Edward of Windsor, born at Windsor on 13 November 1312, who succeeded him [See Edward III] ; (2) John of Eltham, born at Eltham ; (3) Eleanor, also called Isabella (Ann. Paul p. 283), born at Woodstock on 8 June 1318 and married in 1332 to Reginald, Count of Guelderland ; (4) Joan of the Tower, born in that fortress in July 1321, married to David, son of Robert Bruce, and afterwards King of Scots ; she died 14 August 1362 (SANDFORD, Genealogical History, pp. 146-156.) [See OED, p. 466] Clickè”Back”
¶ Part Two
The princes and the precontract -- our line of inquiry
The voices of many good and honest people have been raised in protest down the ages that the alleged precontract was a fraudulent invention of Richard III's. It was a flagrant lie, they said, and merely Richard's sordid pretext to usurp the throne from Edward IV's eldest son, Edward V. There are other voices, less strident and not at all sure and certain about the allegation, as we should expect, if the precontract document cannot be found. It means the allegation cannot be verified or falsified by us today on the basis of this document if it cannot be found. We intend to re-examine once more this odd 'case of the missing document', if we may, using "new" evidence, "new" methods and "new" procedures.
If the precontract was indeed genuine and not an invention of Richard III's, and this is our first presupposition, was Richard responsible for destroying a genuine document ? This is one possible option. If true, and the document was genuine and did once exist as alleged and Richard destroyed it, then, why should he do this ? The document, presumably, was central to his case. Why did he not produce it, therefore, in order to prove beyond any measure of doubt his outright claim to the throne ? Perhaps he was mad. This is merely one derived possible option. There is another possible option. There was indeed a document and it was, in fact, fraudulent and a fake. For the moment we do not intend to go down this road except to say that it is possible but unlikely. We wish to stay on the firm road of fact, if possible, in that Richard's "enemies" oddly do not appear to have demanded sight of the document at the time, nor later. Neither did they insist that it be proved in the ecclesiastical court: which was the proper court to decide such matrimonial matters. Perhaps even more oddly, these "enemies" do not appear to have accused Richard of having destroyed the supposed document, whether genuine or fake, at any subsequent time. The enemy claim, in each case, and we will return to each one of these remarkable unsupported claims in our evidence-in-chief, was merely provocative and unproved -- that the case was fraudulent. We will say, therefore, and this is our second presupposition, that the last remaining possible option, and there is no other possible option, is that there was no provable document at all. We will test this assumption in our evidence-in-chief.
For the present, we have to pause for just one minute, if we may, to define and to show precisely what we mean by Richard's "enemies". In this, first of all, there are the foreign enemies ; notably, the French king, Louis XI. Secondly, there are the enemies closer to home, the domestic enemies, certain factions among the Lords, Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons ; notably, the Woodvilles. Thirdly, there was Henry Tudor, in league with Richard's enemies, foreign and domestic, preparing the English people in and out of parliament, with French assistance, for his threatened invasion of England.
We will say, therefore, that enemy conscious agents spread the rumour that the story of the precontract was a disgraceful and flagrant lie concocted jointly by Richard and Stillington, in order to attack Richard and damage his credibility. We will further say that unconscious agents spread this rumour and that the tactic was successful. We will further say that the king's enemies made certain unsatisfactory inquiries, each and severally, with members of the family of Lady Eleanor Butler. Since this lady is said to have died in 1468, some fifteen years before inquiries being made in and after 1483, and depending upon to which descendants of the family the inquirers spoke, there are merely three options for us to consider as to their conjectured reply : 'True', 'False', or perhaps, 'I do not remember'. Whatever the conjectured reply was, in fact, what no one either knew for sure or could find out, presumably, was the fate of the conjectured and all-important precontract document.
The inquiry may decide that our line of inquiry into this alleged precontract is now clear. But what happened, in fact, to the document is not at all clear. For the moment, we merely make the assumption that a document of some kind did at one time exist, either fake or genuine, and now no longer exists. Nothing is clear except, perhaps, the element of secrecy intruding into each aspect of the case and the possible motive of each one of the parties concerned, not merely individually but collectively, in concealing the fate of this supposed document. In this, we shall say that fear of disclosure was that motive, from first to last.
We have now to draw attention, one last time, to the suggestion in the portrait that 'Richard III revealed the extremity of Edward IV'. It means, presumably, that Richard revealed this 'extremity' of his brother, Edward IV, after he became Richard III. If true, it means at or after the time that he, Richard, had publicly announced his claim to the throne as Richard III. In this it is widely agreed and accepted, and it is not contradicted and is not in dispute, that Richard claimed his reign to have commenced on the twenty-sixth day of June 1483. Richard assumed the title sitting on the King's Bench in Westminster Hall at an informal ceremony of acceptance. Ten days later, on the sixth July 1483, Richard of Gloucester was formally anointed and crowned King Richard III of England.
The disfigured "fifth" finger (See : “Part Eight: Postscript”), suggests : 'Richard III revealed the impediment to Edward V.' It means, presumably, that the alleged impediment to his nephew was similarly revealed by Richard to parliament either on, or sometime after, the 26th of June, 1483. The inquiry may wish to know the precise date that this allegation was publicly disclosed for the first time. In this, we may now perhaps leave the painting and return to the history.
¶ Part Three
The case for the defendant
By now, the reader may perhaps experience a distinct feeling of unease that Richard III, some five centuries ago, may have been wrongly accused of murder. This unease is not surprising. The risk of being accused of a crime we did not commit is small but it does exist, unfortunately, and we know it. It is this disturbing thought, presumably, that makes us question today if a person charged with murder has been wrongly accused. We are naturally concerned if a mistake has been made. In this connexion, since no conclusive evidence has been found to-date, leaving the case of a wrongful charge of murder open to renewed investigation, we propose to examine the reason for this odd assumption of royal murder.
In this, we have briefly to return to certain new evidence, as already described and made clear, which gives rise to an alternative assumption in "our" case of missing persons ; namely, that these missing persons were not in fact murdered, merely notionally murdered. If true, and the princes lived into the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, then Richard cannot possibly be a murderer. It means that Richard (and Sir James Tyrrell in the following reign of Henry VII) is a "notional murderer". We have to draw attention that the assumption of murder has been based on common prejudice and not common sense over a considerable period of time. This remarkable prejudice has distorted our perception of Richard III, as we should expect, and now we know it. But there is more.
We have to draw attention that this is not a court of law, we are not here to defend Richard on a murder charge and it is therefore not up to us to prove that Richard did not commit the one unspeakable crime among all Peoples of the Book, 'the shedding of innocents' blood'. That is for our opponents to prove. In this connexion, we shall say that however much our opponents may fiddle around with the fact of the disappearance of the princes -- they may fall short and fail. It is a failure they should be prepared openly to acknowledge : this acknowledgement giving credit to the mistaken witness rather more than to the wrongly accused.
Officialdom continues to remain oddly silent. In this, something is wrong and has been wrong over a considerable period of time. It means, first of all, that officialdom has to answer to the charge : has there been, in fact, a murder or murders ? The final answer to the charge, as already described and made clear, is now within the purview of the law. It merely requires a recommendation to the appropriate civil and ecclesiastical authorities for exhumation and scientific examination (by DNA profiling) of a tiny sample of bone taken from : 1) the supposed remains of the princes lying in Westminster Abbey ; and 2) the remains of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Sir Edward Guildford (or Lady Jane Guildford) and Dr. John Clement. If these findings identify the missing sons of Edward IV, then Parliament, the great finder, may decide to exercise its prerogative and pronounce upon a petition of its members from all sides of the House, presumably, that Richard III was wrongly accused in the matter of the alleged murder of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, which did not in fact take place at any time, and, as we should expect, to enact and enter this into the Rolls of Parliament.
Since the official door is shut tight, the reader may not be surprised that we continue to lean upon it until it finally opens (or falls down!) and we are allowed access to certain ancient archives. For the moment, we merely draw attention that the provenance of each one of the reports of this period of history, and the reports themselves, has been looked into and examined by eminent scholars. We may not always agree with certain scholarly suppositions but this is not of prime concern here. Our examination is concerned with certain undoubted matters of fact ; namely, the dates of publication of certain books -- our next central theme.
We continue to dig away at the debris with powerful new tools in order to get down to the bedrock of this “buried” history. If in the course of our examination we find the princes...it will be simply marvelous. Those of us who prefer to think well rather than ill of a person will be profoundly relieved. We merely add that we propose to make use of certain new methods and new procedures, if we may, which we will describe and make clear as we go along.
¶ Part Four
The documentary evidence : an interpretation
We now present to the members of the inquiry, if we may, the documentary hardcore of this short period of English history ; namely, the Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland., edited by G. E. C. Cockayne, Volume XII (2), published in London, in 1959. We refer firstly to the section "Richard, Duke of York", with additional reference to Appendix J. We also offer certain evidence given in The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Volume 2, "The History of King Richard III", edited by Richard S. Sylvester and published in America, by Yale University Press, in 1963. These are monumental academic books of reference which we will interpret, if we may, and we merely begin at the beginning : a relatively short period of time, about three months, from the sudden death of Edward IV on 9 April 1483, to the coronation of Richard III on 6 July 1483. We will refer to these works during our brief examination as the 'Complete Peerage', and the 'Yale Edition'. Other expert opinion will be described and made clear as we go along.
In this connexion, we have first of all to draw attention to one major point; namely, that no factual eye-witness account is recorded against Richard in either the Complete Peerage or the Yale Edition in relation to the alleged murder of the two princes. It means, as we have already described and made clear, that each one of the allegations of murder is uncorroborated. The only fact is the fact of the rumours. But rumours are not facts as we understand a fact to mean. By now, the inquiry may decide that the case against Richard III is now indeed altered and may wish to come to a decision based upon the facts of the case, presumably, and not merely on the basis of certain odd allegations and rumours. We intend, therefore, to stick closely to the facts of this new and altered case, which concern Richard III and the remarkable reports and reporters in the matter of his controversial ascension to the throne of England.
Before we begin this new examination we have to pause, if we may, for just one minute. We have to draw attention to new criteria and certain inherent risks involved in their use. We have also to draw attention to the checks and balances we further propose to apply in the case of each one of these inherent risk-options.
These criteria (we call them 'rules') concern 'reports and reporters' in wartime. Firstly, since these reports are being made during a period of hostilities (better known and described as the on-going "Wars of the Roses"), we have to draw attention from the outset that where we find one reporter repeating a second reporter, the risk in each case is that the reporter is either a conscious agent acting under certain orders from an "enemy" case officer or merely an unconscious agent repeating those reports. Our first task, therefore, is to 'find the source' -- and this is our aim and objective.
Secondly, we see from certain publication dates given in the Yale Edition, which we will describe and make clear to the inquiry, that these reports by known reporters, in each case and without exception, were not published until many years later. The risk here is that the original reports have been altered over a substantial period of time. Here, our task is 'find the original report' -- our second aim and objective.
Thirdly, in the case of certain anonymous reporters, we propose to consider the reports as 'motivated' for some known or unknown reason. The risk here, of course, is that the reporter may be a "hostile" with an axe to grind. Here, our major task is to ignore all rebuffs -- and 'find the motive'.
Lastly, if we are to advance in this new method of on-going examination we have temporarily to free our minds once more and on this occasion from the unconscious conditioning that comes from seeing and hearing instantaneous reports and reporting in the twenty-first century. The reports which we produce to the inquiry, and to which we now draw attention, were not intended to be seen by the general public in the fifteenth century. We shall say, and the inquiry may conceivably decide, that these remarkable reports were intended, in each case, for the eyes of certain persons only.
Without further preamble we would now like to call our first 'reporter', if we may, one Philippe de Commynes. Since the strict rules of evidence cannot be complied with here we merely inform the inquiry, again if we may, that the appropriate entry in Larousse shows (and the entry in this book is jointly attested, of course, by forty members of the French Academy) that Philippe de Commynes or Commines, Sire de la Clyte, was born about 1447 near Hazebrouck, which is near Lille, then in Flanders and now in France. Described as a 'chronicler' (the alternative French authority Le petit Robert describes him as 'historian'), we read that he was the author of certain memoirs on the reigns of Louis XI (1423-1483) and of Charles VIII (1470-1498). These two French kings reigned between 1464 and 1498. In his historical work he shows a deep knowledge of politics ('un politique profond') and a clear narrative style ('narrateur plein de clarté', Larousse). We see that he was successively in the service first of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1433-1477), then Louis XI, who made him Senechal of Poitou, and then Charles VIII who employed him on certain diplomatic missions to Italy, then Louis XII (1462-1515). He died in 1511.
We have straightaway to inform the inquiry that since the name of the reporter, Phillippe de Commynes, does not appear on any French list of diplomats accredited to the royal court of England, and since there is no report of Commynes in England from any English source, that the new methods and new procedures require us to make this new examination of a French national based upon the assumption that he was in England under cover, in the service of the French king, intelligence gathering prior to the invasion of England by Henry Tudor.
If true, there are one or two small points we have to make. Firstly, we see from his official record that Commynes was employed in service at certain royal courts over a substantial period of time. It means that from an early age, presumably, he came to understand the ways of the royal court and the requirements of patronage. We see him first in the service of the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. The royal house of Burgundy was closely allianced to the royal house of York, as already described and made clear, by Charles's marriage to Richard III's sister, Margaret, (née Margaret of York). Commynes was therefore well placed to report on the York and Burgundy families and this would not have been lost on the French who regarded him as a loyal Frenchman. Secondly, we see in the Yale Edition that his memoirs were written down between 1486-1489 and were not published until 1524 (in Phillippe de Commynes : Mémoires, ed. Dupont E, 3 vols, Paris, 1840-1847). It means, first of all, that Commynes's memoirs were published some thirty-five years after they were allegedly completed, some thirteen years after his death, and they have since been edited. Lastly, we see that Commynes had dedicated 'Mémoires', and this is beyond any measure of doubt, to a certain Angelo Cato, Archbishop of Vienne.
We have to pause here, very briefly, if we are to understand what is to follow. In this connexion, it would be wholly unsafe to assume that this Archbishop de Vienne, Angelo Cato, was a churchman in the way we may expect a churchman to be to-day. In this, we have the silent support of the members of the French Academy and of certain other French scholars who have not considered the name of Angelo Cato worthy to be included among the eminent persons of France. His name is significantly missing from the pages of French history as recorded in Le petit Robert and Larousse. This is neither odd nor surprising. It means, presumably, that certain French scholars prefer it to be understood that the names of two great men of politics who had lived in pre-Christian Rome and who had died rather than betray their highly-ethical principles, Cato the Elder and Cato of Utica, should not be seen in the same book beside the name of an eponymous archbishop who had been involved in certain political activities of which these scholars of France disapprove. It was this same Angelo Cato to whom Commynes prefaced his memoirs with the remarkable words :
As a result of my solicitude for your requirements, I shall undoubtedly expose myself in writing to the criticism of my readers. Wherefore you should not expect from me the names of individual men and places, nor that this account should be complete in all details.
It means, presumably, that Commynes had been required by Cato to write down his account of certain intelligence gathering undertaken by Commynes in England in the service of France. In this, and from direct inspection of his memoirs, we shall say that Commynes had indeed gained access to certain confidential and privileged information either direct or from un-named 'reliable sources' before 1486. If what we may suspect is true, it means that Commynes's Mémoires is a confidential and final report for the official archives dedicated to his former security chief, Angelo Cato. If true, it further means that in common with certain other amateurs co-opted into the professional security services, Commynes was exposing himself to criticism by openly writing about his secret wartime activities and he knew it.
We have to draw attention that it is not entirely unknown for an historian, co-opted in wartime, to later publish and dedicate his final report to the former chairman of the security executive. For example, in The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939-1945, a self-confessed 'amateur of the double-cross', Sir John Masterman, dedicated his work : 'To the Earl of Swinton, P.C., G.B.E., C.H., M.C., D.L., amongst whose many services to Great Britain the Chairmanship of the Security Executive 1940-1942 was not the least.' In Masterman's case, publication of his final report, completed before September 1945, came twenty-seven years later, in 1972. In Commynes's case, publication of his final report, completed before 1489, came thirty-five years later, in 1524. Security considerations were equally if not more stringently imposed, presumably, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
We merely add here that Commynes probably spoke fluently or had a good working knowledge of Latin, Flemish, French, German and English, which he had acquired in royal service. Secondly, we see that the precise nature of his original orders from Cato, as we should expect, is not disclosed. We further observe, following our new criteria, that Commynes does not state if his memoirs were re-written from notes taken down at the time of the events related. Not conclusive evidence but significant.
In this, we have to draw attention that since this experienced man of letters, writing between 1486 and 1489 'with a profound knowledge of politics' and 'a clear narrative style', Commynes, is unwilling to give the names of the persons to whom he had spoken and 'where and when' in 1483 and then declines further to vouch for his information as being complete in all its details, it means not merely that he was fearful of criticism from other readers to whom, it seems clear, Commynes expected his report to be shown, but that Commynes was covering his back, as we should expect, in the event of a denial or for any mistake that might subsequently come to light. It further means, perhaps, that Commynes did not entirely trust Cato and was not sure how precisely his memoirs would be presented and used by Cato. In this connexion, the following abstract written by Commynes in a clear narrative style refers indirectly and by implication to the alleged precontracted marriage and the rumours current at the time. In this, we will say that the following report by Commynes was subsequently shown by Cato to the Chancellor of France, Guillaume de Rochefort, who abstracted from it in a pointed speech to the French Parliament. We will further say that Cato was perhaps the case officer appointed by de Rochefort, upon whose good offices and good fortune Cato depended and Commynes knew it, and the French Academy know it.
The bishop discovered to the Duke of Gloucester that his brother King Edward had been at one time in love with a beautiful young lady, and had promised her marriage, upon condition that he might lie with her ; the lady consented, and, as the bishop affirmed, he married them when nobody was present but these two and himself. His fortune depending upon the court, he did not disclose it and persuaded the lady likewise to conceal it, which she did, and the matter remained a secret.
It is odd indeed, after the time of publication of Commynes's memoirs in 1524, that a loyal Englishman in England would believe anything said by a Frenchman thirteen years after Commynes's death and thirty-eight years after his visit to England, in 1483, at a time of strained relations, still on-going in 1524, between France and England. And yet many loyal Englishmen reluctantly believed at the later time and continue to believe to-day that what the Frenchman, Commynes, had 'said' was factual and probably true ; namely, that the story of the secret precontracted marriage between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler was current at the time in certain quarters. This is not contradicted at any time and is not in dispute by Commynes. However, and in this we return to our major topic, Commynes does not refer to the alleged precontract document. This is neither odd nor surprising. It means, presumably, that having already disabled himself in his preamble ('nor that this account should be complete in all details') Commynes is merely reluctant to repeat to Cato (and via Cato to his other readers) that he had failed to obtain a copy of the precontract document and, perhaps, some others of those items he had been given in a detailed "shopping list" of items to be obtained in England in 1483. It means that Commynes had no hard intelligence to report on the matter. If true, it further means that Commynes was not given to speculation or "wishful-intelligence", leaving this to his masters.
If we may stay abroad for a little longer, we see from our reading of the Calendar of Milan Papers (Vol. I, p.117-118) that Cato, made Archbishop of France in 1482, is described as 'physician and astrologer' to the king of Naples, Ferrante, and (at the same time) to the king of France, Louis XI. This is odd. An archbishop-astrologer practicing medicine without a degree is sincerely libelous. The Milanese defense, presumably, is that it is merely the truth. Cato is also thought by the Milanese to have been 'patron' (so-called) to a certain Dominic Mancini, and this is reported in an end-on relationship with the information that Cato was 'an intimate friend', as we should expect, of the Chancellor of France. If true, it is not in the least bit surprising that the French Estates General, which met in the city of Tours on 15 January 1484, was informed by Chancellor Guillaume de Rochefort that Richard of Gloucester had 'murdered with impunity' the children of Edward IV and had usurped the English throne. This remarkable allegation was made in Latin in a speech reported, unedited, in Collections de Documents inédits sur l'Histoire de France, Série I, ed. Bernier A, Paris, 1835, p.38.
Aspicite, quaeso, quidnam post mortem regis Eduardi in ea terra contigerit, ejus scilicet jam adultos, et egregios liberos impune trucidari, et regni diadema in horum extinctorum, populis faventibus, delatum.
The translation reads, close enough :
Consider, I pray you, the events that have occurred in that country since the death of King Edward. Consider his distinguished children, now adults, murdered with impunity [and their assassin?] crowned king in the hour of their death, by the will of the people.
The assumption of murder was justified, presumably, since the princes did not attend the coronation of their uncle, Richard, and no-one spoke openly of the reason for their undoubted disappearance. In this, we shall say that the French Chancellor was not naive and that he had possibly guessed, or had been advised by informers, that the precontracted marriage of Edward IV was probably true and that Richard, out of loyalty to his brother, had usurped the throne rather than allow the ecclesiastical court to decide the matter. He also guessed that Richard had hidden both princes away, perhaps, since rebellions had broken out in England to restore Edward V to the throne. Finally, he guessed that Richard wanted the princes out of the way of the French agents and the English supporters of Henry Tudor who equally wanted them under their control. Oddly, de Rochefort spoke to the French nobles in Latin. One option is that all the French nobles in attendance at Tours on that day long ago, perhaps, spoke Latin. Another possible option is that the Chancellor spoke in Latin (and not in French) in order that certain Latinists might then translate and interpret his words correctly, as we would expect, and advise and counsel their French noble masters accordingly. But there is more.
Guillaume de Rochefort had not forgotten, presumably, that Richard had rejected a certain French offer at the Treaty of Pecquigny, in 1475, when in a rare show of resentment against his brother, Edward, he had refused to accept an annual pension from Louis XI. His brother, Edward, together with the English bishop, Morton, had not refused the bribe offered by Louis, and Edward took his invading army back to England.
If we may pause for just one minute, we have to draw attention that this tells us something real about Richard's character. The way of the world demands, then as now, that your enemy should not be allowed to see any sign of internal dissent on your side during business negotiations. To show the slightest sign of dissent is to invite exploitation of this dissent by your enemy. The experienced Morton knew this well, presumably, and perhaps attempted to instruct the young Richard. Similarly, to refuse a bribe in this royal world was a hostile act. Richard had indeed shown himself hostile to the offer. He had insulted Louis at Pecquigny. Richard had ignored the risk of retaliation at a later date, unfortunately inherent in many young men, and, as we should expect, he would suffer the consequences at the hands of older and more cunning men who had not forgotten or forgiven him for refusing the royal bribe. It means that Richard had either neglected or rejected certain studies in the ways of this royal world. He was untutored and unprepared, presumably, for the outcome. The French would now help his enemy, Henry Tudor, to take the English throne away from him. They would begin by instructing certain specialist agents to exploit the dissent against Richard in the south of England.
Perhaps we may add here that our supposed French agent No. 1, Commynes, claims (Book IV, Ch. X) that Richard later paid a 'courtesy visit' to Louis XI and received from him presents of plate and horses. If true, then Richard was a man of no principle and a taker of bribes. However, we have to draw attention that this allegation is not made by an eyewitness but by an enemy 'reporter'. Furthermore, it is uncorroborated by an English eyewitness in 1475, as we should perhaps expect, if Commynes is a French conscious agent planting anti-Richard disinformation in 1483. Perhaps even more oddly, there is apparently no record of this alleged visit by Richard to Louis XI in an official French source. We shall say, therefore, that this omission in the official record is a blunder by Commynes's case officer, Cato. If true, it means Commynes was not merely a co-opted, amateur intelligence-gatherer. He is revealed as a gifted dabbler, perhaps, in the black arts of the agent provocateur.
If we may now return to the speech of Chancellor de Rochefort to the French Assembly in January 1484. Although there was not a shred of hard evidence that the two English princes had been murdered, merely of their disappearance from their apartments in the Tower of London, the misinformation was intended, presumably, to denigrate Richard and to provoke a reaction in favour of Henry Tudor. We have to draw attention, once more, to the remarkable on-going enmity between France and England. We shall say, and the inquiry may conceivably conclude, that the deeply fastidious French rather liked the exiled Welshman, Henry Tudor. The French needed some sort of extra hold on the English. Henry, of course, had distinct possibilities. And since the English had long proved tiresome, stamping all over France with their heavy horses at Crècy and Agincourt, as if they owned it, an ambitious and impecunious Welsh pretender to the English throne with hands deep in French pockets was probably ideal. Henry would be willing, presumably, to ally himself to France, avoid further wars, and save them money. There is more.
We shall say that the Chancellor of France had a rather more important axe to grind at home. This particular axe was then shown, deliberately and yet discreetly, at the meeting of the French Estates General on 15 January 1484 at Tours. In this, we have to draw attention first of all that the French king, Louis XI, like the English king, Edward IV, had died in 1483. Secondly, the new French king, Charles VIII, was a minor. Oddly, Edward V was also a minor precisely the same age as Charles VIII. Thirdly, Charles's eldest sister, Anne de Beaujeu, had been appointed Regent of France by decree. Similarly, Richard of Gloucester had at first been appointed to a similar position by decree in England -- and there's the rub. The risk to France was a copycat reaction by certain French nobles objecting to the regency of Anne de Beaujeu.
We shall say, therefore, that the purpose of the Chancellor's speech at the meeting of the Estates General in January 1484 was to bring into line those French nobles who were objecting to the regency of Anne de Beaujeu. If true, then the selectively planted misinformation begins, perhaps, to make sense. This sensible Chancellor of France, Guillaume de Rochefort, long-experienced and hardened by the blows in the cruel world of politics, someone 'who would not shrink from telling a little lie as if it was patricide' (as a later Chancellor of England, Thomas More, once wrote about himself in a letter to Erasmus), addressed the assembly, and those dissenting nobles in particular, warning them of certain risks to France. The Chancellor spoke in Latin.
We cannot assume that all the French nobles were foolish -- some perhaps but not all. The Chancellor was directing his words, first of all, to those Latinist advisors and counsellors who in service were obliged to point out to their noble masters the nuances being conveyed, perhaps, within their Chancellor's words : that a dissenting French nobleman, unlike the English milord, Richard of Gloucester, would not take the throne of France by murder or by the will of the people and would not go unpunished. The likelihood of certain recent events in England having escaped French attention is remote. The risk was that those French noblemen whose claims to the French throne were perhaps as valid as their English royal counterparts might have raised certain hopes by recent events in England -- and destroy France in the process. We shall say that the point was well made by the French Chancellor and understood by the obliging noblesse. Charles VIII only lived to attain his twenty-eighth year as king of France and died in 1498 to be succeeded by his cousin, the Duke of Orléans, as Louis XII.
Finally, we shall say that the Archbishop of Vienne and the Chancellor of France had in place a second agent in England, 'Agent No. 2', Dominic Mancini, as we have already introduced and described him, a 'visitor to England'. We have to draw attention to a suggestion in the Yale Edition (p. lxxiii) that Mancini wrote down and completed, before the end of December in the year 1483, an eyewitness account of certain events from the time of Edward IV's death on 9 April 1483 until the coronation of Richard III on 6 July 1483. This remarkable manuscript book entitled : 'Dominicus Mancinus ad Angelum Catonem de Occupatione Regni Angliae per Riccardum Tercium Libellus' or ('Dominic Mancini to Angelo Cato : a book on the Ascension to the Throne of England of Richard the Third'), was found by C. A. J. Armstrong of Hertford College, Oxford, in the Bibliothèque Municipale in Lille, in 1933. Armstrong translated it and later published an edited version in London in 1936. In this, we have to draw attention to another scholarly suggestion, in the Yale Edition, that the book is not ‘autograph’. It means the manuscript is not, perhaps, in Mancini's handwriting. This is odd. If true, then why, you may decide, is this not asserted either in the text or made clear in some other way that it is a first or second transcript of an original manuscript. This was a custom at the time and was still customary nearly a century later; for example, in certain manuscript copies of William Roper's Life of More. And where, one may ask, is the autograph and original report. We shall say, on balance of probability, that it was forwarded to Mancini's case officer, Angelo Cato.
We shall further say that Mancini was an Italian conscious agent in the service of the French king, acting as an agent provocateur in England. Oddly, the scholars do not appear to have made the possible connexion between Mancini and the mysterious manuscripts that suddenly began to appear in England during this period of time, which has puzzled them for so long. The scholars merely note Armstrong's suggestion that Mancini did not speak good English and, perhaps, may have misunderstood his informants. We shall say that Mancini's descriptions are precisely what we should expect from an agent provocateur. The scholars may perhaps respond that reporter Mancini's account merely reflects the known Lancastrian views held in the south of England. We shall rebut this saying that Richard was a York prince and a northerner and the French aim and intention was hostile and 'divisive'. The inquiry may conceivably decide that the Armstrong contra-argument, as given in the Yale Edition (p. lxxiii), is perhaps lacking certain critical checks and balances. We should try, therefore, to move on.
In England, the writer of one of a small group of chronicles which, according to the More scholar, R. S. Sylvester, 'modern research has tended more and more to associate with the name of a certain London draper, Robert Fabyan', although we see further in the Yale Edition (p. lxxiii) that the first edition published some thirty-three years after the events related, in 1516, is in fact anonymous, noted :
During the year that Edward Shaa was Mayor, the children were seen shooting and playing in the garden of the Tower at sundry times.
Since Edward Shaa (or Shaw) was Mayor of London from 29 October 1482 until 28 October 1483, it means that the children were possibly seen some time before the end of October in the year 1483. (See : Footnote No. 1)
However, if the princes were indeed taken out of the Tower by Richard, it means that it was Henry and his supporters who seized on the opportunity to elaborate upon the rumours already circulating in England as to the probable fate of the princes at the hands of Richard. Henry, as we should expect, wanted the princes under his control. He needed to know where they had been hidden away by Richard. It was Henry, presumably, who therefore agreed with the Chancellor of France 'to tell a lie and find out truth' in the French Assembly, which would be reported by Latin-speaking scholars throughout Europe. The French Chancellor duly announced the two English princes had been murdered by Richard -- and that they had been murdered before Richard's accession. The double-edged sword would either force Richard to produce the boys in order to scotch the rumour or to continue to hide them and face the charge of having murdered them. It was the beginning of Henry's anti-Richard dirty tricks campaign made from inside France. In this connexion, we have to draw attention that the unsigned transcript of the Mancini report, and we will continue to refer to it in this way, if we may, shows :
The two boy princes were withdrawn into the inner apartments of the Tower proper and day by day began to be seen more rarely behind the bars and windows until at length they ceased to appear altogether.
Since this unsigned transcript ends with the coronation of Richard III, it means, presumably, that the princes are reported (falsely!) to have disappeared before Richard's coronation on 6 July 1483. In this connexion we shall say, and the inquiry may conceivably decide, that this report is a final report to his case officer, as we should by now expect, by a conscious agent merely pretending to be an unconscious agent (in case of discovery or denunciation) of the contrafactual "birdseed" he had scattered in England. The factual material in the original report was highlighted, perhaps, by underlining with pure lemon juice (invisible when dry but which turns dark-brown if heat is gently applied to the parchment).
It is not at all clear but since the transcript was found by Armstrong in Lille, near Hazebrouck, the place of birth of Phillippe de Commynes ; Mancini (or another) may have used Commynes as a "cut-out" and a copy was made, perhaps by Commynes himself, which was later found among his personal papers and then passed post mortem to the Lille museum. This remains for assessment. For the moment, we shall say that the original report was despatched, possibly by one or more "cut-outs", to the case officer, Angelo Cato, and then relayed by Cato to the Chancellor of France, Guillaume de Rochefort, and the substance of the report was subsequently made use of by the Chancellor, one month later, in his speech of January 1484, to the French Estates General. We shall further say that this is the best-fit hypothesis, which takes into account all the positive and negative evidence in an ongoing method of inquiry, further describing and explaining certain methods of communications security known to have been in use from the twelfth century and possibly long before. The relevant section, now under critical review, reads as follows :
A Strasbourg doctor, the last of his attendants, reported that the eldest boy, like a victim prepared for sacrifice, sought remission of his sins by daily confession and penance because he believed that death was facing him. I have seen many men burst forth into tears and lamentations when mention was made of him after his removal from mens' sight. And already there was suspicion that he had been done away with. [Begin Underlining with chemicals] Whether however he has been killed, and by what manner of death so far I have not at all discovered. [End Underlining]
If the princes lived on, then, the Mancini manuscript is readily dismissed as disinformation by a conscious agent in French service. Of course, we, the English, would not like to admit we had been outsmarted by the French. Thomas More was not too proud to learn from the French experience. We can see it and feel it, if we are sensitive to this sort of thing, in the remarkable way 'Meddler More' re-wrote current history in his newly graphic and emotionally dramatic History of King Richard III. Fundamentally, it is More's tribute to the extremely clever French -- and now, perhaps, we know it. (See : Footnote No. 2)
Footnote No. 1 :
Notes of a London Citizen 1483-1488 was found in the College of Arms and published in 1981 -- a miscellaneous collection of papers dating from the 16th century, probably copies of 15th century origin.
Footnote No. 2 :
The method was widely used by Axis and Allies during the war of 1939-1945 and later during the Cold War. It is a highly skilled tactical wargame perhaps better known to-day as 'black propaganda'. For an in-depth examination by the historian of cryptology of the remarkable methods of black propaganda, black operations, communication security and the history of 'secret writing', see The Codebreakers by David Kahn, D. Phil., first published in Great Britain in paperback by Sphere Books Ltd., 1973. Published simultaneously by Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., 1973.
¶ Part Five
The precontract and the Rolls of Parliament: the history
We have to draw attention, first of all, that Richard III's Act of Settlement (1484) can be seen to-day in Vol. VI, PARLIAMENT. I RIC. III. p. 240. This is odd. Firstly, why is Richard's Act included in the Rolls ? In this connexion, we have to draw attention that Henry VII's Act of Settlement (1485) (as seen in PARLIAMENT. 1. HEN. VII. p. 289) repealed Richard's Act one year later. Henry ordered Richard's Act to be removed from the Rolls of Parliament and all rehearsals of its substance 'to be banned forever on pain of fine and imprisonment'. This is our first remarkable anomaly. The first task of the inquiry is, therefore, to decide if the inclusion of Richard's Act in the Rolls of Parliament is de facto an illegal procedure; or, is it made legal de facto by its inclusion in the Rolls of Parliament.
We shall say that since there is no subsequent rescinding order in Henry VII canceling the removal of Richard's Act from the Rolls, and this is beyond any measure of doubt, the risk is that this possibly illegal version of Richard's Act (p. 240-242) has been edited by a person or persons unknown, after 1483 when it was first published in manuscript form and before 1783, when the Rolls of Parliament first appeared in print. If true, and we will test this, it means that the provenance and both fact and substance of Richard's Act (as rehearsed in Henry's Act) is not authentic, leaving the case open to renewed investigation at an advanced level of scrutiny.
In this, we have to draw attention that preliminary investigation shows the 18th century editor to have "allowed" at least one addition in the margin of the printed version. The inquiry may not be at all surprised that one addition concerns Richard III's Act of Settlement, the so-called 'Titulus Regius', whereon, from direct inspection of the undated document C 65/1243, on membrane 3, in the Public Record Office, which is thought to be original, which is contradicted and in dispute, the word 'Responsio' has been added in the printed version. This is confirmed by the Public Record Office (See: Letter dated 15 November 1993, signed Vanessa J. A. Carr : "Titulus Regius does appear on the original document but 'Responsio' does not. However, the use of 'Responsio' in the printed rolls is common when the answer of parliament is given. Presumably, therefore, this was used as a method of highlighting the answers in these volumes"). You may conceivably decide, on the other hand, that it is not at all certain if each one of the entries in the margins is an original entry. You may further conceivably decide that it is possible to determine to-day 'the true in the false and the false in the true' with the aid of modern 'paper and ink' technology, and that recommendations for this systematic examination should be made to the Mother of Parliaments by the inquiry 'for posterity's sake'.
The scientists may conceivably decide that certain other words may have been added. For instance, since 'Titulus Regius' (or, 'The Title of King') is not a de jure claim, if the ink used by the editor matches the ink of the two words 'Titulus Regius', it means they are 18th century additions.
We may now return conjecturally to the earlier 15th/16th century editing by Henry's experts and how this may affect "our" case of the missing princes. There is no clearly stated and compelling provenance to explain the anomalous manuscript included by the editor. It would be unsafe to assume the printed version of Richard's Act of Settlement (1484) is an exact copy of the original. We will test this in our evidence-in-chief. We turn, therefore, to Henry's Act of Settlement and the Latin heading (see the Rolls entry on p. 288) which reads :
18. ITEM. quedam Billa in pergameno exhibita fuit in presenti Parliamento, in forma sequitur. Adnullatio Actus etc.
This is as we should perhaps expect. Pending scientific investigation of the parchment and ink, the words 'Adnullatio Actus etc' ('nullification of the Act') suggest that the heading is original and was written in the time of Henry VII. If true, then 'in presenti Parliamento' ('in the present parliament') means Henry's parliament of 1485. The entry continues as follows (p. 289) :
A.D. 1485. 1 Hen. VII.
WHERE afore this time, Richard, late Duke of Gloucester, and after in deed and not of right King of England, called Richard the Third, caused a false and seditious Bill of false and malicious imaginations, against all good and true disposition, to be put unto him, the beginning of which Bill is thus:
PLEASE it your noble Grace to understand the Considerations, Election and Petition underwritten, &c.
Which Bill, after that, with all the contents of the same, by authority of Parliament, held the first year of the usurped Reign of the said late King Richard the Third, was ratified, enrolled, recorded, approved and authorized; as in the same more plainly appeareth. The King, at the special insistence, desire and prayer of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, will it be ordained, established and enacted, by the advice of the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by authority of the same, that the said Bill, Act and Ratification, and all the circumstances and dependants of the same Bill and Act, for the false and seditious imaginations and untruths thereof, be void, annulled, repealed, irrite [meaning, 'void and of no effect'], and of no force nor effect. And that it be ordained by the said authority, that the said Bill be cancelled, destroyed, and that the said Act, Record and enrolling, shall be taken and voided out of the Roll and Records of the said Parliament of the said late King, and burned, and utterly destroyed. And over this, be it ordained by the same authority, that every person having any Copy or Rememberances of the said Bill or Act, bring unto the Chancellor of England for the time being, the same Copies and Rememberances, or utterly destroy them, before the Feast of Easter next coming, upon pain of imprisonment, and making fine and ransom to the King at his will. So that all things said and remembered in the said Bill and Act thereof may be for ever out of rememberance, and also forgot. And over this, be it ordained and enacted by the said authority, that this Act, nor any thing contained in the same, be any way hurtful or prejudicial to the Act of Establishment of the Crown of England to the King and the Heirs of his body begotten.
QUE quidem Billa Cõib' Regni Angl' in eodem Parliamento exiften' tranfportata fuit: Cui quidem Bille iidem Cões affentum fuum prebuerunt fub hiis verbis. A ceft Bille Cõenz affentuz.
QUIB' quidem Billa & Affenfu coram Dño Rege in Parliamento predcõ l~ectis & intell~ectis, ad f~pialem inftantiam, defiderium & rogatum Dñor' S~pualium & Temporalium in d~co Parliamento fimiliter exiften', & de affenfu Cõitat' ~pdictorum, necnon auctoritate ejufdem Parliamenti, refpondebatur eidem in forma fequenti.
(Refponfio.) Le Roy le voet.
We will return to this supreme and possibly unique act of interference in the official record of parliament later. For the moment, we merely draw attention to the section in Henry's Act which shows, by statement of claim, that Richard's Act was 'ratified, enrolled, recorded, approved and authorized' in the first (and only) parliament of Richard's reign, in 1484. We should perhaps pause here, for just one minute, to consider this in relation to "our" case of the missing princes.
If true, it means that for a period of at least seven months, that is to say from 26 June 1483 and up to the enactment of Richard's Act of Settlement (possibly, the 23 January 1484), the grounds for Richard's accession to the throne had perhaps been advised to a select few in Council but had not been openly debated in parliament and its final decision publicly proclaimed either in England or in Europe. We have to draw attention to the simple fact that the alleged impediment to Edward V, as described in Richard's Act, which we will show next to the inquiry, was caused by the alleged precontracted marriage of Edward IV to Lady Eleanor Butler. However, and in this we may now return to our central theme : the precontract marriage document is not mentioned. It does not say in Henry's Act that the document is falsified and attached, as we should perhaps expect, if the document still existed. Either the lawyer who drew up the Act made a gross procedural blunder or, as we shall say, he was ordered to leave out any mention of the conjectured document. If true, then the person who gave that order was Henry. However, this is merely one derived possible option. The first possible option is that Richard's Act similarly did not mention the all-important pre-marriage document. If true, then the person who gave that odd order was Richard.
In this connexion, we have to draw attention that Richard's Act had first been read by Henry's DDT, presumably, with time, opportunity and motive to edit it. The risk is that Richard's Act, as seen to-day in the Parliament Rolls, is a spurious Tudor version of an official document destroyed on Henry's orders in order to prevent this substitution from coming to light. We intend to present, first of all, expert evidence that certain editing of the text has taken place. We therefore propose to examine this doubtful version with the expert assistance of Alison Hanham, notably her findings published in Richard III and his early historians 1483-1535, Oxford, 1975, p. 64 et seq., which, if we may, we will then interpret.
The initial petition to Richard to take the throne (as rehearsed in Henry's Act) was written on a roll of parchment presented to Richard (either on or before 26 June 1483) by un-named persons representing the three estates 'out of parliament'. It means at an 'extraordinary' sitting by only selected members of the house. The petition was then enrolled and ratified by the estates now duly meeting in a full sitting of the house 'in form of parliament' sometime in January 1484. It means that Richard was then the legal occupant of the throne -- anointed, crowned and enrolled by parliament. It was this Ricardian document that was ordered by Henry VII to be excised from the memory of parliament and destroyed. This remarkable lack of consideration for the feelings of the members in general (embodied in the National Portrait Gallery painting) sowed certain deadly seeds of doubt, perhaps, in later parliaments. This would grow and later blossom into civil war between the King and Parliament -- but this is merely peripheral to "our" case. We should now perhaps quote at some length from Richard's alleged Act of Settlement, as seen in the Rolls of Parliament, which contains certain material relevant to "our" case and which reads as follows (p. 240) :
A.D. 1483. I Ric. III.
MEMORAND', quod quedam Billa exhibita fuit coram Dño Rege, in Parliamento predcõ, in hec verba.
WHERE later heretofore, that is to say, before the Consecration, Coronation, and Inthronization of our Sovereign Lord the King Richard the Third, a Roll of Parchment, containing in writing certain Articles of the tenor under written, on the behalf and in the name of the three Estates of this Realm of England, that is to wit, of the Lords Spirituals and Temporals, and of the Commons, by many and divers Lords Spirituals and Temporals, and other Nobles and notable persons of the Commons in great multitude, was presented and actually delivered unto our said Sovereign Lord the King, to the intent and effect expressed at large in the same Roll; to the which Roll, and to the Considerations and instant Petition comprized in the same, our said Sovereign Lord, for the public weal and tranquillity of this Land, benignly assented.
Now forasmuch as neither the said three estates, neither the said persons, which in their name presented and delivered, as is above said, the said Roll unto our said Sovereign Lord the King, were assembled in form of parliament; by occasion whereof, diverse doubts, questions and ambiguities, being moved and engendered in the minds of divers persons, as it is said: Therefore, to the perpetual memory of the truth, and declaration of the same, be it ordained, provided and stablished in the present parliament, that the tenor of the said Roll, with all the contents of the same, presented, as is abovesaid, and delivered to our beforesaid Sovereign Lord the King, in the name and on the behalf of the said three Estates out of Parliament, now by the same three Estates assembled in this present Parliament, and by authority of the same, be ratified, enrolled, recorded, approved and authorized, into removing the occasion of doubts and ambiguities, and to all other lawful effect that shall more thereof ensue; so that all things said, affirmed, specified, desired and remembered in the said Roll, and in the tenor of the same underwritten, in the name of the said three Estates, to the effect expressed in the same Roll, be of like effect, virtue and force, as if all the same things had been so said, affirmed, specified, desired and remembered in a full Parliament, and by authority of the same accepted and approved. The tenor of the said Roll of Parchment, whereof above is made mention, followeth and is such.
To the High and Mighty Prince Richard Duke of Gloucester.
Please it your noble grace to understand the considerations, election, and petition underwritten, of us the lords spirituals and temporals and the commons of this realm of England, and thereunto agreeably to give your assent to the common and public weal of this land, to the comfort and gladness of all the people of the same.
First, we consider how that heretofore in time passed this land many years stood in great prosperity, honour, and tranquillity, which was caused for so much as the kings then reigning used and followed the advice and counsel of certain lords spirituals and temporals, and other persons of approved sadness, prudence, policy, and experience; dreading God and having tender zeal and affection to indifferent ministration of justice, and to the common and politic weal of the land. Then our Lord God was dread, loved and honoured; then within the land was peace and tranquillity, and among the neighbours concord and charity; then the malice of outward enemies was mightily resisted and repressed, and the land honourably defended, with many great and glorious victories; then the intercourse of merchandises was largely used and exercised. By which things above remembered the land was greatly enriched, so that as well the merchants and artificers, as other poor people labouring for their living in diverse occupations, had competent gain to the sustentation of them and their households, living without miserable and intolerable poverty.
For the moment, we draw no inference from the above. We merely point to Hanham's expert opinion that the spelling of certain words (for example, 'luffed', 'thaym', and 'thair') as seen in a copy of the petition (and which is not seen in the rest of the Act) supports the contemporary claim of the southerner that it was drawn up by a northerner -- and Richard was, of course, a northerner. The effect is oddly divisive even today. It casts a slight shadow of doubt and suspicion, if we are a southerner and sensitive to this sort of thing, upon what perhaps is to follow.
But afterward, when that such as had the rule and governance of this land, delighting in adulation and flattery, and led by sensuality and concupiscence, followed the counsel of persons insolent, vicious, and of inordinate avarice, despising the counsel of good, virtuous, and prudent persons, such as above be remembered, the prosperity of this land daily decreased, so that felicity was turned into misery, and prosperity into adversity, and the order of policy and of the law of God and man confounded, whereby it is likely this realm to fall into extreme misery and desolation (which God defend) without due provision of convenable remedy be had in this behalf in all goodly haste.
The reason for the decrease in prosperity in England is attributed to vice and avarice among the un-Godly. One might ask, if irreverently, 'So what is new?' The speaker then apparently proceeds to the central reason for this emergency sitting of parliament 'in all goodly haste'.
Over this, amongst other things, more specially we consider how that the time of the reign of King Edward IV, late deceased, after the ungracious pretensed marriage (as all England hath cause so to say) made betwixt the said King Edward and Elizabeth, sometime wife to Sir John Grey, knight, late naming herself and many years heretofore Queen of England, the order of all politic rule was perverted; the laws of God and of God's church, and also the laws of nature and of England, and also the laudable customs and liberties of the same, wherein every Englishman is inheritor, broken, subverted, and contemptned, against all reason and justice, so that this land was ruled by self-will and pleasure, fear and dread, all manner of equity and laws laid apart and despised, whereof ensued many inconvenients and mischiefs, as murders, extortions and oppressions, namely of poor and impotent people, so that no man was sure of his life, land nor livelihood, nor of his wife, daughter nor servant, every good maiden and woman standing in dread to be ravished and defouled. And besides this, what discords, inward battles, effusion of Christian men's blood, and namely, by the destruction of the noble blood of this land, was had and committed within the same, it is evident and notary through all this realm, unto the great sorrow and heaviness of all true Englishmen.
The 'ungracious pretensed marriage (as all England hath cause to say)' was well known throughout Europe and had been accepted by the lords, spiritual and temporal, and the commons in parliament, perhaps with a certain understandable reluctance, nearly twenty years previously. To overturn the lawful decision of parliament would need something more than merely an assertion of 'murders, extortions, and oppressions', the inquiry may agree, and that a previous monarch was incompetent by reason of his reliance on evil and incompetent counsellors. More was needed than this to make the case and, as we should expect, there was more.
And here also we consider, how that the said pretensed marriage betwixt the above-named King Edward and Elizabeth Grey, was made of great presumption, without the knowing and assent of the lords of this land, and also by sorcery and witchcraft committed by the said Elizabeth and her mother Jaquetta Duchess of Bedford, as the common opinion of the people, and the public voice and fame is through all this land; and hereafter, if and as the case shall require, shall be proved sufficiently in time and place convenient. And here also we consider, how that the said pretensed marriage was made privily and secretly, without edition of banns, in a private chamber, a profane place, and not openly in the face of the church, after the law of God's church, but contrary thereunto, and the laudable custom of the church of England. And how also, that at the time of contract of the same pretensed marriage, and before and long time after, the said King Edward was and stood married and troth plight to one Dame Eleanor Butler, daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury, with whom the same King Edward had made a pre-contract of matrimony, long time before he made the said pretensed marriage with the said Elizabeth Grey, in manner and form abovesaid. Which premisses being true, as in very truth they being true, it appeareth and followeth evidently, that the said King Edward during his life, and the said Elizabeth, lived together sinfully and damnably in adultery, against the law of God and of his church; and therefore no marvel that the sovereign lord and the head of this land, being of such ungoodly disposition, and provoking the ire and indignation of our Lord God, such heinous mischiefs and inconvenients, as is above remembered, were used and committed in the realm among the subjects. Also it appeareth evidently and followeth, that all the issue and children of the said King Edward, being bastards, and unable to inherit or to claim anything by inheritance, by the law and custom of England.
The parliament sitting nearly two years later in Henry's reign (in January 1485-6) knew by now, presumably, that the above-quoted words of the speaker in Richard's reign, on 26 June 1483, 'and hereafter, if and as the case shall require, shall be proved sufficiently as in time and place convenient', to be blunt, was a lie. The case had not been proved in open court. It meant that all that was to follow was probably a lie. And all that had gone before regarding a golden age for the poor, they knew, was a lie. This remarkable document then continues by referring to the attainder of George, Duke of Clarence, which disabled and barred his issue, but does not specify the details of the charge of treason for which he, George, was executed upon the order of his brother, Edward. This possibly edited petition by a Tudor DDT, as by now we should expect, continues:
Over this we consider, how that ye be the undoubted son and heir of Richard late Duke of York, very inheritor to the said crown and dignity royal, and as in right King of England, by way of inheritance; and that at this time, the premisses duly considered, there is none other person living but ye only, that by right may claim the said crown and dignity royal, by way of inheritance, and how that ye be born within this land; by reason whereof, as we deem in our minds, ye be more natural inclined to the prosperity and common weal of the same, and all the three estates of the land have, and may have, more certain knowledge of your birth and filiation abovesaid.
We have to draw attention to the words 'more certain knowledge of your birth and filiation abovesaid' in that the petition thus 'touched aslope craftily', as More put it, certain allegations that Richard's brothers, who were born abroad, were illegitimate. More was factually correct, perhaps, in that the petition did touch craftily upon the contemporary allegation (of the enemies of the Nevilles) -- that Edward and George were illegitimate. However, since the original documents are not available to us, as already described and made clear, we will say merely on a balance of probability, and the inquiry may conceivably conclude, that Henry's dirty tricks department had substituted an edited version of Richard's Act in the Rolls of Parliament : the Tudor Trojan horse. We will say that the Tudor DDT knew precisely what it was doing. The aim was to lay certain contrafactual information in an end-on relationship with factual information in the Parliament Rolls. For instance, the words 'more certain knowledge of your birth and filiation' were additions intended, quite deliberately, to provoke an immoderate anti-Richard reaction in the country. The implication that Richard’s noble mother had committed adultery damaged his reputation and credibility. The inquiry may conceivably decide we have been lead into a maze, expertly created for the purpose of misleading a careless reader and More knew it. In this, we have to draw attention that More took notice of the method and turned it to better use in More's Richard, and now we know it. I think we may now perhaps move on :
We consider also, the great wit, prudence, justice, princely courage, and the memorable and laudable acts in diverse battles, which as we by experience know ye heretofore have done, for the salvation and defence of this same realm; and also the great noblesse and excellence of your birth and blood, as of him that is descended of the three most royal houses of Christendom, that is to say England, France and Hispanie... For certainly we be determined, rather to aventure and commit us to the peril of our lives and jeopardy of death, than to live in such thralldom and bondage as we have lived long time heretofore, oppressed and injured by extortions and new impositions, against the laws of God and man, and the liberty, old policy, and laws of this realm, wherein every Englishman is inherited...[And] albeit that the right, title, and estate, which our sovereign lord the king Richard the Third, hath to and in the crown...being just and lawful...the court of parliament is of such authority, and the people of this land of such nature and disposition, as experience teacheth, that manifestation and declaration of any truth or right, made by the three estates of this realm assembled in parliament, and by authority of the same, maketh, before all other things, most faith and certainty; and, quieting men's minds, removeth the occasion of all doubts and seditious language...
In this, we shall say that this remarkable enrolled document merely reflects ex post facto that considerable doubt, disquiet and seditious language had been the southerners' major topic of conversation before parliament had finally given its authority to Richard's petition in January 1484. Certain rebellions had broken out in the south and the south west of England. We shall return to this in our evidence-in-chief. For the moment we merely draw attention to the speaker's words of praise concerning Richard's 'great wit [knowledge], prudence, justice, princely courage, and the memorable and laudable acts in diverse battles...' In this, we shall say that these factual matters concerning a warrior king, Richard, as we should by now expect from Henry's experts in the DDT, have once more been laid end-on to certain contrafactual material ; namely, the central assertion contained in the preamble to Henry's Act that Richard 'caused a false and seditious Bill of false and malicious imaginations, against all good and true disposition, to be put unto him...' We will test this startling new assumption as we go along. But, for the moment, we must leave the Rolls of Parliament. We merely ask the inquiry to make its recommendations on the basis of the evidence produced so far. We could go on, since there is much more to be described and made clear, but other matters discriminate against this and press us for attention. We intend, therefore, to leave the 18th century editor's extremely odd rehearsal of Richard's possibly 'illegal' Act of Settlement, which is slightly worrying, and return to our main topic -- Richard and the precontract. We have to move on, and in this connexion, we have first to draw attention, if we may, to the inscription upon the personal arms and badge of Richard III. Below the remarkable white boar we see certain words in the French language : 'Loyauté me lie' or 'Loyalty binds me'. The inquiry may conceivably decide that these words and symbols did not merely identify the person but reminded and exhorted their illustrious wearers to remember and to carry out certain aims and traditions: to family and society, nationally and internationally.
We have now to draw attention that the history shows certain details of substance, supported from all sides, of Richard's unswerving loyalty to his elder brother, Edward, over a substantial period of time. This is perhaps understandable if we remember the death of their father at the Battle of Wakefield, 30 December 1460, when Richard was only eight years old. The struggle for power in the wars between the houses of York and Lancaster had resulted in tragedy for the Neville family and when the Lancastrian side then won the second battle of St. Albans some two months later, on 17 February 1461, the three brothers, Edward, George and Richard, went into exile abroad. However, when their elder brother, Edward, then proclaimed himself King Edward IV and his army was victorious at the Battle of Towton, 29 March 1461, both George and Richard returned shortly after, in April 1461, from Utrecht in Flanders, where they had been hiding. It was from about this time, presumably, that this remarkable bond was forged. Since time again presses, and without wishing to delay this examination by going into the history of the Neville family, it may be helpful to see Edward, a perhaps lively and engaging character with an attractive personality, encouraging his young brother, Richard, some ten years younger and at an impressionable age, to accept certain responsibility for the well-being of the illustrious Neville family. If true, the inquiry may further decide that of such binding stuff is certain family loyalty made.
We are told that Edward together with Richard (George is not always mentioned) fought their way back to power in a series of battles fought under Richard's direction and generalship, such was his remarkable renown in warfare. He commanded the vanguard and his personal courage in the thickest of the fighting at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury was becoming legendary abroad. This is an evaluation by a foreign visitor to England, Dominic Mancini, to whom we will return again. We should perhaps remember that Richard was no more than thirty-three years of age when he died at Bosworth and his skills in warfare were not matched by certain other skills, which are only acquired after many years experience in the fields of politics and international diplomacy.
Perhaps we may pause here, for just one minute, in order to consider one or two other facts about Richard. He was new to the responsibilities of kingship. There was no longer an elder brother to advise him. He was a family man who in peacetime lived quietly in Middleham in Yorkshire together with his wife, his only child and his mother-in-law, working as an administrator of the lands along the northern borders between Scotland and England. Suddenly he found himself in a strange new world surrounded by southerners and when some of them objected to his Protectorship he responded, as we should expect from an inexperienced young warrior, by cutting off their heads.
We shall say that Richard did not have a counselor of the probity and all-round intellectual ability of Thomas More to guide him as More would later guide and advise, presumably, his nephews, niece and great-nephew. We merely add that each person can only have one destiny and this was not Richard's destiny. He would die, as we should by now expect, on a battlefield. It is deeply to be regretted that the last English king to lead his forces into battle is charged with usurpation, murder and deception. Richard, the inexperienced northerner ('inexperienced' merely because it was his destiny) explained and made clear the legal grounds for his claim to the throne offering the supporting evidence of the Bishop of Bath & Wells, Robert Stilllington, that the precontracted marriage of his brother was true. I have to draw attention to the simple fact that Richard ascended the throne without the assistance of the supposed Plaintiff, Lady Eleanor Butler, to give supporting evidence against his brother, and in absentio, without the marriage document. The inquiry may agree that the case was lost before it started.
We may now perhaps move on to examine each one of Richard of Gloucester's conjectural fears and apprehensions, which over-rode his reason, presumably, adversely clouding his judgment soon after the sudden and unexpected death of his brother, King Edward IV of England.
The three principal factions in England most likely to be affected by the alleged pre-contracted marriage of Edward IV were the Nevilles, the Woodvilles, and the Tudors. The conjectured existence of a genuine precontract document represented, presumably, a risk to the Woodvilles and the Tudors. It meant that the Woodville faction and the Tudor faction were under attack by the Neville faction. The precontract, if genuine, put at risk the power of the Woodville faction to rule England, merely by bastardizing the Woodville children. The Tudor faction similarly were threatened by the alleged precontract in that the marriage proposed by the Lady Margaret Beaufort of her son, Henry Tudor, to Elizabeth Woodville's daughter, Elizabeth of York, would bear an impediment. The Woodville faction and the Tudor faction, as one should expect, counter attacked. If the allegation was true, then, the 'lying' defence, as we should further expect, was to say that the allegation was false, and to blacken Richard's name by every means at their disposal. We have to draw attention once again and finally that neither side, in fact, produced the conjectured precontract document central to winning their case. This is not odd in the case of the Woodville and the Tudor factions if the story was a fabrication. It means that there was no document to produce. It is only odd on the Neville side. And it is this Neville side, therefore, that we now propose to examine.
In this, we shall say firstly, on a balance of probability, that the Bishop of Bath & Wells, Robert Stillington, was sane and sensible at all times in question. Secondly, we shall say that the alleged pre-contracted marriage did in fact take place between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler and the precontract document was then signed and sealed by the two parties with Stillington the sole witness. Thirdly, we shall say that Stillington personally officiated over these formalities and that he performed his office and duties in good faith.
We will also say that Edward consummated his marriage to Eleanor and, following custom, Eleanor was asked by Edward not to make public the marriage and that he, Edward, would publish the Royal Banns in due course. We shall say that when Edward did not in fact make public the marriage that the family of Lady Eleanor Butler first approached Stillington who perhaps asked Eleanor to remain silent until the position was clarified. Stillington then made certain representations together with the family of Lady Eleanor Butler, jointly, to the Neville family, which was rejected. The Nevilles had thus made enemies of the family of Lady Eleanor Butler who now had a hold on the Nevilles. This matter between the Nevilles and the family of Lady Eleanor Butler was later resolved in private, presumably, and the remaining family of Lady Eleanor Butler were either intimidated, perhaps, or received certain compensation or some other reward from Edward if we may describe it and not demean it in any way, which is not our intention, for their assumed loyalty to royalty.
Furthermore, it is factual that Stillington was later imprisoned by Edward for a short period and then released. We shall say, therefore, that Edward imprisoned Stillington as a warning to remain silent upon the matter of the precontracted marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler. We shall further say (notwithstanding any other evidence to the contrary) that the unspecified treason of Edward's younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, for which he was attaindered and later executed by Edward, similarly concerned the alleged precontract which, if true in substance and in fact, disbarred Edward's heirs from the legal succession and made George's heirs the rightful and legal heirs to the throne of England -- a more powerful reason for Edward to silence his brother than any other possible reason produced todate.
We shall then say that when Stillington heard of Edward's second secret marriage, the Woodville marriage, he realized that his position as a canon lawyer was compromised and when he was later appointed Bishop of Bath & Wells by Edward and awarded an annual salary of £365, which is factual, his already troubled conscience began to trouble him even more. He felt obliged to speak out. And this is what he did and this is beyond any measure of doubt.
We shall say that Stillington spoke and unburdened his conscience to the Lord Protector of England, Richard of Gloucester, so-willed by his brother Edward in the event of his death. This amounted to a confession of guilt for having previously remained silent. This startling admission was probably repeated to the Privy Council who, presumably, made confidential inquiries with the family of Lady Eleanor Butler. The family of Lady Eleanor Butler, the Talbots, may have denied all knowledge of the precontracted marriage. The risk for the Talbot family was that they were now at grave risk from Nevilles, Woodvilles, and Tudors, jointly and each and severally, if they publicly admitted the alleged marriage and they knew it. A date was perhaps envisaged by the members of the council, the Woodville and Tudor factions excepted, for a hearing of the case, according to custom and rule, in the ecclesiastical court. However, we have to draw attention that there is no record of this conjectured hearing in the Parliament Rolls or in any ecclesiastical record ; or, that this or another hearing took place at some later time, either in the reigns of Richard III or Henry VII. This does not mean, of course, that a hearing did not take place behind closed doors and in private. We shall say, on a balance of probability, that such a hearing did take place and in this connexion we will now show certain documented minutes of this meeting to the inquiry.
¶ Part Six
The king and the precontract
We have to draw attention that the unequivocal assertion of the late Edward IV's bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was made first, presumably, in the Privy Council petition to his brother and Lord Protector of England, Richard of Gloucester, dated 6 June 1483. This was probably enrolled in Richard's Act of Settlement of 1483-4 and rehearsed once more to parliament in an edited form in Henry's Act of 1485-6, as already described and made clear, as seen by us to-day in an "edited" version of the Rolls of Parliament, first printed some three hundred years later. (Rotuli Parliamentorum , Vol. 6, pp. 240-242.) We would like to pause here, for just one minute, in order to consider this.
It is not at all clear but we have to draw attention nonetheless to one English source apparently corroborating both fact and substance of the first part of this conjectured sequence of events. Unfortunately, the source is anonymous. The source is known merely by the cryptic description 'Second Continuator' of the Croyland Chronicle. If we are to stay on the narrow path of common sense it means the testimony is suspect, regrettably, in that the writer oddly does not identify himself. It means, therefore, that the writer (like any other witness who refuses to give his name) may be regarded as a hostile witness, unless and until proved otherwise.
Let us begin therefore, by saying in his defense, that the writer is a monk writing in the abbey of Croyland, near Peterborough in Lincolnshire, which is known today as Crowland Abbey. In this, it is not at all clear if the monk is meddling in profane matters (by reporting an informant close to the court) or if he is merely re-writing certain material for the chronicles taken from another manuscript. In either case he is "editing", presumably, an unknown first informant. We have to decide, first of all, if this is merely ancient custom or, perhaps, an extremely crafty device to enable the monk-redactor to withhold the name of the first informant. Secondly, and this is our preferred option, that the monk-redactor better known as the 'Second Continuator' is merely recording in the chronicles an edited version of certain private and confidential minutes first written down by a secretary (or by himself) at a recent meeting of certain senior clerics and seculars at Croyland Abbey.
Since the monk-redactor apparently saw no risk in referring to certain controversial matters contained in Richard's Act of Settlement (which matters had been expressly forbidden to be repeated in Henry's Act of Settlement), it means that the text was written down, perhaps, before Henry's Act was heard outside the walls of parliament. If true, it means at some time before January 1485-6 and not later than Easter 1486. The attention of most scholars has largely bypassed identification of the unknown Second Continuator and has focused upon the possible identity of the first informant. For the moment, we merely repeat the expert opinion of Alison Hanham in "The 'Second Continuation' of the Crowland Chronicle : a Monastic Mystery" (op. cit. p. 74 et seq.)... that this anonymous first informant has been conjecturally identified as a certain John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, Richard's former Lord Chancellor. (See Footnote)
Although there were others who were in a position to have known this high-grade intelligence, highly privileged and confidential "inside-information", as reported by the Second Continuator, which we will describe and make clear to the inquiry, this conjectural identification by Hanham provides us with an expert assessment and we will continue to refer to this first informant, therefore, as "Russell". If we may now return to the central theme of "our" case...
If true, and the first informant was in fact a former Chancellor, then Russell had access, presumably, to any preliminary hearing of the case in chambers. We shall say, therefore, that this conjectured private hearing did take place, in fact, at Croyland Abbey and (unless this is mere affabulation by the Second Continuator) that certain highly privileged information was recorded ; for instance, that the allegation of Edward's marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler was 'questionable if not artful'. The words in Latin read : 'Color autem introitus et captae possessionis hujusmodi is erat...' ('color' meaning here 'an artful excuse' or 'colouring of a questionable action'). (p. 566) It can also mean 'on fraudulent grounds', which gives us one more possible reason why Russell was dismissed his office by Richard and replaced by Thomas Barrow. If true, Richard, a loyal family man, did not see his claim (and other aims and intentions vis-à-vis his family), presumably, as either 'artful' or 'questionable'. The passage in the Croyland Chronicle, which we will say, and the inquiry may conceivably conclude, is an edited version of the confidential minutes of the meeting at Croyland Abbey, continues :
'[It] confirmed the title by which the king had attained his exalted rank the previous summer. Since matrimonial law was at issue, the body of laymen was not qualified to pronounce on the material, nevertheless, even the stoutest were so swayed by fear, that parliament took power upon itself, and did so pronounce. (p. 570).
This passage shows that the title by which Richard claimed the throne 'the previous summer' was only published, presumably, in or about the summer of 1484. Russell did perhaps claim 'even the stoutest were so swayed by fear' that although parliament had no right to act on such grounds it 'did so pronounce' on the material. It is not at all clear but Russell seems not merely disgruntled by the turn of events but oddly sarcastic in a prejudicial way, perhaps, where he says that Richard's Act 'confirmed the title by which the king had attained his exalted rank the previous summer...' However, the monk-redactor does not minute the grounds for Russell's earlier opinion (p. 566) that the petition of 1483 regarding Edward's alleged marriage to Eleanor Butler was 'fraudulent'. If true, and the grounds were not in fact stated by Russell, we shall say that this eminent canon lawyer, Russell, probably did not state the grounds merely his opinion upon the grounds since the alleged precontract was not supported by documentary or other evidence acceptable in law. We will further say that Russell is by far the best candidate todate for the role of first informant. We merely add that had the document indeed been presented in evidence, at this time or before the meeting at Croyland Abbey, that Russell might have found differently; namely, on a principle of canon law (seen in Panormitanus, Commentaria ad X 4.7.5. (Cum haberet), no. 4 ; 'Nota tertio quod diuturnitas in peccato non minuit peccatum sed augmentat.'), which held that if an act were inherently wrong, its continuation over a period of time could not make it right. Adultery should not be excused by its continuation. It became the greater sin by being repeated.
In this connexion, we have to draw attention to the expert opinion of R. H. Helmholtz making this point on page 97 of "The Sons of Edward IV : a canonical assessment of the claim that they were illegitimate", a paper circulated at a Richard III symposium in 1984 and included in a subsequent publication "Richard III, Loyalty, Lordship and Law". We also see earlier, on page 91, if we may now repeat this here verbatim : 'It alleged that the realm had suffered great and demonstrable harm because of the unlawful union between Edward and Elizabeth, and it claimed that no children of that union had the right to rule.' The second continuator of the Croyland Chronicle put the legal argument as follows : 'It was set forth...that the sons of King Edward were bastards, on the ground that he had contracted a marriage with one Lady Eleanor Butler before his marriage to Queen Elizabeth; added to which, the blood of his other brother, George, Duke of Clarence, had been attainted; so that, at the present time, no certain and uncorrupted lineal blood could be found of Richard, Duke of York [the old Duke of York], except in the person of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. (Ingulph's Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland, ed. H.T. Riley, 1854, p. 489.)
We may accept the merit of the argument put forward by Helmholtz (p. 97) and others, that the parliament was a secular assembly and had no power to determine a question properly triable only before an ecclesiastical court. We may further accept that whatever its force in substantive law, Richard's claim was inadmissible on jurisdictional grounds. If true, then we shall say, and the inquiry may conceivably conclude, that Richard had some compelling reason for avoiding the ecclesiastical court and its possible findings.
In this connexion, we have to draw attention that the ecclesiastical court sitting in full session on a case had extensive rights of inquiry. It was empowered to summon any witness to appear who was in a position to contribute anything material in order to assist the court to arrive at a correct decision -- preferably an eyewitness able to testify to the facts of a case. This means that Bishop Stillington, the alleged witness, would be called upon in the matter of the alleged precontract. However, this would come later. The first item on the agenda, and the first item to be omitted from the confidential minutes, presumably, was the cause and circumstances of death of the late king, Edward IV. In this, Russell was asked to show just cause, perhaps, why he blamed 'the cunning and subtle faithlessness of the untrustworthy Louis XI' (p. 563) to be chief part of the cause of the 'pensifous sikeness' (some sort of depressive illness?) which afflicted Edward at the end and which is a matter of record in the Grants...of Edward V, ed. Nichols, (pp. lii-liii). The court may have pursued this line of questioning if they had thought the witness, Russell, was being economical with the truth ; namely, that Edward took his own life as a result of this or some other illness.
The questioning of other witnesses may have proceeded along the same or similar lines. If the court found that Edward had indeed taken his own life, he would not have been entitled to burial in consecrated ground according to church rite. We shall say that this extremely important possible finding of the court was successfully pre-empted, in fact, by certain "friends", as we will show in our evidence-in-chief, before Richard had arrived in London. In this, it is factual that the funeral of Edward IV had taken place and the body buried at Windsor Castle before two of the chief mourners, Richard and Edward V, arrived in London. This is odd. It is also odd, as we have already described and made clear, that the coffin of Edward IV was opened, in 1789, for some undisclosed reason. (See Note: "Edward IV" at end of chapter) We shall say that the persons who examined Edward's remains in the 18th century included medical doctors looking for evidence of the probable cause of death. The technology exists today to establish, beyond any reasonable doubt, if death was by poison. We shall return to this again later. For the present, any other cause of death might be more difficult to prove in view of the passage of time. But there is more.
Woodville would be asked, presumably, if she had known of the alleged precontract before she married or did she learn of its possible existence at some time after she had married. Was Woodville informed of it, perhaps, by her late husband during his lifetime or, alternatively, by her late husband's brother, George Neville, late Duke of Clarence ; or, perhaps, by her late husband's mother, the duchess Cecily Neville (her great enemy). Did Woodville say nothing of this hold she had on her late husband in order to advance herself and her family. Was this the reason Woodville agreed to the secret marriage -- to advance herself ?
We do not wish to delay matters unduly by going into each and all other possible options here. We shall merely say that Richard's prompt action in ascending to the throne and thus pre-empting any possible sitting of the proper court to decide such matters in open session bears this odd interpretation of the facts of the case. The inquiry may conceivably decide that it is merely an extension of Richard's remarkable loyalty to his brother in the face of potential disaster ; namely, the extinction of the good name of Edward IV. If true, the inquiry may not be in the least surprised that the next year, 1484, and despite their differences as to who should rule England, Woodville responded by releasing her daughters to Richard's care and advising her son by her first marriage, Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, to give up the cause of Henry Tudor.
In this, the inquiry may further decide that this was out of character and unlikely behaviour on Woodville's part unless something remarkable had happened to make Woodville change her mind. We shall say that this change of mind and manner was as a result of certain private negotiations between Richard and Woodville. Up to the time of these negotiations, there was immense fear and distrust between the parties. Since Richard had executed Woodville's brother, Anthony, Earl Rivers, and her son by her first marriage, Sir Richard Grey, merely on suspicion of treason -- to suggest that Woodville would have performed this volte face if there remained the slightest risk of Richard harming her or her children after the negotiations is of very low probability. Although not all experts agree that there was no intimidation on Richard's part, we shall further say, and the inquiry may conceivably conclude, that the decision to conceal the extreme behaviour of Edward IV was finally agreed without intimidation. The risk to Woodville if the case came to court was greater by far, presumably, than the risk of co-working with her brother-in-law out of court. The decision of both parties to co-operate each with the other was made, presumably, on the basis of expediency and for reasons not to be made public. We will return to this again.
For the moment, we have to draw attention, and because the inquiry will perhaps need to see and to consider a total population of possibilities, to at least four conjectural options as to what may have transpired. Firstly, it is possible that certain privy councillors, some of whom were related by marriage to the Woodvilles, insisted on a complete blackout of information to the general public. Secondly, it is equally possible Stillington was prevailed upon by the council that they would take no action against Stillington if he would say no more upon the matter of the precontract. Thirdly, it is equally likely that the remaining family of Lady Eleanor Butler were once again prevailed upon to say nothing. All of this was entertained and performed, perhaps, 'for the quietness of the realm', an odd phrase seen in certain documents at the time. These were merely matters to be dealt with by the Privy Council, presumably, in England. However, these matters were inimical in the eyes of the Church of Rome to whom the ecclesiastical court had its first loyalty. It was this conflict of loyalties which would be finally resolved within fifty years by Henry VIII when he reformed the Church in England.
If we may pause here for just one minute -- we have to draw attention that the artist in the National Portrait Gallery painting merely shows us Richard revealing the extreme behaviour of his dead brother, Edward. He does not suggest that Richard revealed any personal extremity of his own ; for instance, that he destroyed the precontract document. We will say, therefore, on a balance of probability, fourthly and indeed lastly, that it was Edward who destroyed or ordered to be destroyed the incriminating precontract document, that he greatly rewarded the Talbot family with certain advancement; and, that he released Stillington from prison after obtaining his promise to remain silent. We will further say that Stillington, as we should expect, had made and retained safely a record of the royal precontract among his personal papers. It was this document he may have shown to the councillors.
For the moment, and we will return to Richard in just one minute, we may now consider the "new" question if in fact Elizabeth Woodville saw Stillington's conjectured note of the precontract. We will merely say that it is possible. What is more likely is that Woodville heard about it and Stillington's allegations from other members and friends of her family. In this connexion, we know from the Rolls of Parliament, as we have already described and made clear, that Richard did indeed reveal the impediment to Edward V in this way. We will say, therefore, that it was by this parliamentary route that it came to Woodville's startled attention. We will further say that it was made clear to Woodville by friends, presumably, that she was obliged absolutely to appear before the ecclesiastical court in order to defend herself against certain charges of impropriety. She would appear with her brother-in-law, King Richard III, her mother-in-law, the Duchess Cecily Neville, and certain members of the family of Lady Eleanor Butler. The inquiry may conceivably conclude that something had to be done immediately to avert a family disaster and Richard did it.
If we may now turn, for just one minute, to the meaning of the word 'impediment' as given in the Oxford English Dictionary. It means, if we may now suggest this to the inquiry : 'something that impedes, hinders or obstructs.' We shall say, therefore, that Richard indeed created an impediment to a proper and correct settling of the case in that he impeded, hindered and obstructed the sitting of the ecclesiastical court. We shall further say that Richard pre-empted their findings merely by taking the matter of the succession out of their hands and that he knew precisely what he was doing. Lastly, since the defendant, Richard, chose to stay silent on the matter, over a substantial period of time, the inquiry will be asked to decide, on balance of probability, if Richard's pre-emptive strike for crown and kingdom was merely the action of a thief in the night seeing a window of opportunity -- or, was it a deliberate "shut-out" by the rightful owner of the house. In this connexion, we see in the Dictionary of National Biography that this latter option was approved, after due deliberation and apparently with certain understandable reluctance, by the commons, the lords and the people, who were 'intimidated' (according to Gairdner) by certain extreme actions taken by Richard in the cases of Hastings, Buckingham, Rivers, Grey and Vaughan. To be blunt, Richard had cut off their heads.
Oddly, this fits well with what we are saying ; namely, that, with the one exception of the Duke of Buckingham, beheaded on 2 November 1483, further atrocities ceased abruptly after Richard's accession, which, as already described and made clear, had pre-empted any possible findings of the ecclesiastical court -- whatever they were or might have been. This is merely one more possible option in the present case under examination, a parlay and mutually agreed truce made between the two principals, Woodville and Richard. In this, we shall say that the truce broke down due to 'insider-trading' by Woodville in an active and increasingly hostile situation developing, as we should expect, in the background. We will return to it again.
Edward was guilty of deception, perhaps, in concealing the alleged precontracted marriage. If true, it would be wholly unsafe to assume that Richard was not aware of the alleged precontract from about the year 1478 when his brother, George, was sentenced to death on Edward's order. Richard was then about twenty-six years of age. Stillington had merely confirmed, in 1483, what Richard either knew factually, or he had suspected, over a substantial period of time. It means that loyalty and devotion, threat and suspense, robbed Richard of his reason. It was this which created the drama.
Hanham is quoting Paul M. Kendall in his Richard the Third, p. 432; and, A.R. Myers Richard III: a Correspondence, p. 710.
Footnote : Edward IV
James Gairdner writes : "When his coffin was opened at Windsor in 1789 his skeleton measured no less than six feet three inches in length". (See DNB Edward IV, p. 500) The opening of the coffin in 1789 is not mentioned in the otherwise extremely detailed text and notes of #110 in The Monuments of St. George's Chapel. There is merely a short note which reads : "In 1789 when the Chapel was undergoing repaving, the King's coffin was discovered (Ibid, p. 418, and Vetusta Monumenta, Vol. III, Plate VII, and pp. 1-4) and Henry Emlyn covered it with the black marble slab, 38½ in. X 124 in., which is now to be seen in the North Choir Aisle. The letters are inset in brass."
[tablet inset in the monument]
[on the ground by the monument]
and his Queen
What is communicated by the most odd terming and naming of the late queen : ‘Queen Elizabeth Widvile’ ? Was Henry Emlyn responsible for the inscription hinting that Widvile was a ‘Widow Vile’ or ‘The Vile Widow’ ?
¶ Part Seven
Lady Eleanor Butler: Introduction
I have to draw attention that the case of an alleged precontract of marriage between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler was made and presented to Parliament without a plaintiff or a defendant. The reader may decide that without a plaintiff and defendant there was no case to make and no case to answer and, therefore, it should not have been made. Nonetheless, if we temporarily put to one side any and all possibly distracting arguments about legal procedures and precedents down the centuries, we know and we are quite sure of the date and most if not all the circumstances of death of "our" notional Defendant, Edward IV, but we are to-day unsure, and the case would not be complete, therefore, without a complete and thorough investigation of the life and death of "our" mysterious notional Plaintiff, Lady Eleanor Butler. The risks taken by officialdom are once more on display, the members of the inquiry have returned to their seats, and Thomas More now joins Richard III at the bar of history while we investigate the story of the Princes and the Lady of the Precontract.
The case of a missing person : Lady Eleanor Butler
We have to request a little latitude, if we may, in order to examine one odd and seemingly unrelated event concerning Thomas More and the central theme of the story he tells us about his co-defendant, Richard III, which he wrote down some thirty years later. The authoritative commentary in The Yale Edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Vol. 2, "The History of King Richard III", ed. Richard S. Sylvester, to-day suggests that More, a busy man, made a simple and straightforward error in writing down the name of Lady Elizabeth Lucy as the Lady of the precontract and not Lady Eleanor Butler. For instance, Mortimer Levine in "Richard III -- Usurper or Lawful King" (Speculum, 34 , pp. 391-401) concludes that More, 'who probably did not know of Lady Eleanor, assumed that Elizabeth Lucy was the lady of the precontract story because of the liaison with Edward. It is even possible that the facts about Elizabeth suggested the precontract story to an inventor'. There are certain difficulties with this argument, as Pollard notes in Tait Essays, pp. 231-232, where he points out that Elizabeth Lucy's son by Edward IV, Arthur Plantagenet, had received the name in 1510 (Statutes of the Realm, Vol. III, No. 41) and became Viscount Lisle on 25 April 1523. Pollard concludes that 'More's story probably arose out of the recognition of Arthur Plantagenet and his mother's existence, which must have become fairly well known, when, in 1511, he married the notorious Edmund Dudley's widow, even if, as Edward IV's mistress, Empson's daughter, and Catesby's daughter-in-law, she was not notorious before.'
I have to draw attention that the first and only claim of an alleged precontract between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler was presented to Parliament and made public in 1483 and, on this one further and final occasion, if we may temporarily put to one side the arguments of claim and counterclaim and whether or not More knew the identity of the notorious Lady of the precontract, we may come directly and immediately to the central point under review ; namely, that the most famous intellectual in Henry VIII's reign made an error in a matter of fact on a page of his Richard manuscript which he then circulated among a carefully chosen circle, most if not all of whom could have pointed out that it was an error. Some may have asked him to correct it. We do not know. All we know is that it was not corrected.
Lawyer More knew precisely what he was doing over a substantial period of time, presumably, and, since the matter is contradicted and in dispute, leaving the case of the misidentification of the Lady of the Precontract open to renewed examination, we will make our re-examination using "new" methods which we will describe and explain as we go along. Furthermore, if we gather together all the puzzling strands of the evidence produced so far, and lay them side by side, without twisting or entangling them, and without trying to make them fit some pre-conceived shape or pattern that we may have seen or heard before, and if we then introduce and interweave the strands with the criteria and systematic methods of "notionality", with which the members of the inquiry will by now be familiar, the pattern to emerge in this on-going method of investigation, however unlikely it may at first seem, is that Lady Eleanor Butler was alive when Richard, Duke of Gloucester, ascended the throne as King Richard III in 1483. We now intend, if we may, to test this new theory for the first time.
The early life, marriage and and alleged early death of Lady Eleanor Butler:
We have to draw attention that there is no entry "Lady Eleanor Butler" in the Dictionary of National Biography. The writer of the entry "Richard III", J. Gairdner, merely repeats the oddly casual description 'daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury', found in the first edition of the Rolls of Parliament to appear in print in 1783, and all subsequent editions (See : Vol. VI, PARLIAMENT, I RIC., III., p. 240). The inquiry may therefore decide to examine the "Will of John Talbot, First Earl of Shrewsbury", Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society, 3rd Series, Vol. 4 (1904), pp. 371-78, listing Eleanor Butler (née Talbot) as one of the children of his second marriage. This is corroborated in a formal document of record, dated 20 March 1495, 'Alianora Botelar…filia Johis. nup. Comit. Salop & Margareta, uxor, dict. comit.' (‘Eleanor Butler daughter of John late Earl of Shrewsbury and Margaret wife of the said Earl’). This document makes provision for prayers to be said for the soul of a benefactress to Corpus Christi College, Lady Eleanor Butler, made between the Master and Fellows of the College and her younger sister, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk. (CCC, Parker Library, Ms. XXXI.12). We will revert to it again.
For the present, we merely chart the well-known noble and royal connexions, by blood and affinity, and write down the perhaps lesser-known history of the family. The documentary source is G. E. C. Cokayne, Complete Peerage, London 1910-1960. I have to draw attention that the contributor to the Dictionary of National Biography (J.T-r) claims (mistakenly?) Anne Beauchamp was the only daughter of Richard Beauchamp and his first wife, Elizabeth Berkeley. (See : DNB, “NEVILLE, Richard”, p. 283)
Elizabeth Berkeley (1) m. Richard Beauchamp m. (2) Isabel Despenser
(1386-1422) Earl of Warwick (1400-1440)
Margaret Beauchamp Elinor Beauchamp Anne Beauchamp Henry
m. m. m. Earl of Warwick
John Talbot Edmund Beaufort Richard Neville (1425-1446)
1st Earl of Shrewsbury Duke of Somerset Earl of Warwick
(1387-1453) (1406-1455) (1428-1471)
| ¦|________|______|¦ ¦|______|______|¦
Eleanor Talbot Henry Edmund Isabel Neville Anne Neville
(1436-1468) Duke of Somerset Duke of Somerset (1456-1476) (1454-1485)
m. (1436-1464) (1439-1471) m. m.
(1) Sir Thomas Butler George Richard
(d.1461) Duke of Clarence Duke of Gloucester
Investigation of various sources reveals a more complete account of the origins of Lady Eleanor Butler. The first marriage of her father, Sir John Talbot (c.1388-1453), took place in March 1407, perhaps before October 1404 (DNB, WYLIE, iii, III), to Maud Neville, by whom he had three sons : John, Thomas, and Christopher, and one daughter, Joan. His second marriage, to Margaret Beauchamp (c.1404-d.1439), daughter of the first marriage of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick (c.1382-d.1439), to Elizabeth Berkeley (c.1386-d.1422), produced three sons, Lord Lisle, Sir Louis, Sir Humphrey, Eleanor and, finally, Elizabeth 'my daughter Waren', (her husband's newly-acquired title at the time) ; later, the Mowbray Duchess of Norfolk.
Richard Beauchamp had a second daughter, Elinor Beauchamp, by Elizabeth Berkeley. This daughter married Edmund Beaufort (1406-1455), Duke of Somerset, by whom she had two sons, Henry (1436-1464), Duke of Somerset, and Edmund (c.1439-1471), Duke of Somerset.
Richard Beauchamp’s third daughter by Elizabeth Berkeley, Anne Beauchamp, married "Kingmaker" Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1428-1471), whose two daughters, Isabel (d. 1476) and Anne (1454-1485), married, George, Duke of Clarence (1449-1478), and Richard III (1452-1485), respectively.
We have to draw attention that Richard Beauchamp also married twice. His second wife was Lady Isabel Despenser (c.1400-1440) who produced a son and heir, Henry, Earl of Warwick (1425-1446).
It means that there was some slight degree of relationship between Lady Eleanor Butler and Edward IV, from the time of the marriage of her aunt, Elinor Beauchamp, to Edmund Beaufort -- and close relationship to her noble uncle, Warwick, and, later, her royal first cousins, Isabel and Anne Neville.
The year of birth of Lady Eleanor Butler (née) Talbot, is not given in any source. However, by deduction, the first marker we put down is the year of the marriage of her parents, 1425. The next is the birth of her first brother, John, Lord Lisle, in or about the year 1426, and the birth of her second brother, Louis, in 1427 or 1428, after which Sir John Talbot was taken prisoner in France. We see in his Will that Louis and Humphrey preceded the birth of Eleanor and that he was released from captivity in 1433, that his first visit to England was during the period of May to August 1435, and his second visit between February to May 1442, and that his youngest child, Elizabeth, was born in or about 1443, our last marker. It means that Eleanor Talbot was conceived either in 1428 or, perhaps, during the period May to August 1435 -- born in 1429 or 1436.
The marriage of Eleanor Talbot to Sir Thomas Butler, son and heir of Ralph Butler, Lord Sudely, took place in 1450. There was a dowry of £1000. (See : Calendar of Patent Rolls 1467-77, p.133). There is no report of any children of the marriage. I have further to draw attention that a Sir Thomas Butler was reported to have died during one of the two battles fought at Towton in February 1461, fighting for Henry VI and the House of Lancaster. It is not at all clear but the widow, Lady Eleanor Butler, appears to have returned possession of her late husband's lands and manors to her father-in-law, Lord Sudely, which the newly enthroned victor at Towton, Edward IV, had confiscated on the grounds that they had been conveyanced by Lord Sudely 'without his royal license'. The odd and arguably anachronistic and arbitrary argument that the lands and manors had been illegally conveyanced by Lord Sudely many years before Towton, merits examination of other related controversial matters at issue and we will return to it again.
The death of Lady Eleanor Butler is recorded in Inquisitions Post Mortem, 8 Edward IV, 39, (PRO C140/29). There is no mention of a Will. However, the records of Corpus Christi College, endowing a priest from the College to pray for Eleanor's soul (Parker Library, Ms.XXXI.12), describes the sister of Lady Eleanor Butler, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, as 'soror dicte Eleanore et executrix testamenti dicte Eleanore'. If there is an executrix, it presupposes a Will. A Will is described, and the Will is missing.
I would like to pause here, for just one minute, to add that a notional person is not permitted to make a Will. The last wishes and transfer of property is carried out by an appointee as though the notional person had, in fact, made a Will. The aim and intention is to "dead-end" any casual inquiry, or perhaps hostile post mortem investigation, into the real identity of a notional person. In this connexion, the Corpus Christi College document, dated 20 March 1495, records an agreement between the College and the sister of Lady Eleanor Butler, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, claiming to be the executrix, a combination of fact and fiction, which is what one may expect to find between appointee and beneficiary if there never was, in fact, a Will.
Investigation shows the hearsay allegation that Lady Eleanor Butler had lived and was buried in the Carmelite Monastery at Norwich, which is now contradicted and in dispute, and which was first published one hundred and seventy years after she was last reported seen alive (1461). The writer of Ancient Funeral Monuments of Great Britain, J. Weever, London 1631, does not report that he personally examined the tomb of Lady Eleanor Butler or that there was an inscription on a tombstone ; neither, that he saw a funeral monument, nor that he examined and recorded the inscription on the funeral monument or that it had once existed and no longer existed, nor that he had copied the details he published of the alleged death from a treasured book of reference, the Obit Book of the Order of the White Carmelites at Norwich, founded in 1256 and dissolved in 1538, which, from custom and rule, on January 1st each year, included the list of names of the deceased in the previous year, including the names of lay persons associated with one of the largest religious houses. Further investigation reveals no trace today of the Obit Book, or the Benefactors' Book, showing the names of the male and female religious, like Agnes Paston, who described herself in the Dutch manner in her Will, a 'suster', of the Norwich White Friars (See : Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, Oxford 1971, Vol. 1, p. 49). This is slightly troubling.
In this connexion, I have to draw attention that the task of the case officer, when the notional person dies, is to conceal the death. The objective is to keep him (or, 'her') “alive", until an "official death" can be arranged, which may be many years later. This deception is carried out by experts employed by the security agency to forge signatures on official documents and on personal and private letters to friends and others "playing the game"' as though the notional person is still alive. These are contemporary conscious agents and we may expect to see interference with official books of record -- stealing, shredding and destruction of evidence not excluded -- later picked up and relayed by subsequent conscious and unconscious agents, as perhaps in the case of J. Weever.
Finally, the given history is that Lady Eleanor Butler died in or about 1468. The inquiry may conceivably agree that prayers for the soul of a dead person are said, according to custom, from the time the person dies and that we should therefore expect to see some sort of evidence of prayers being said for the soul of Lady Eleanor Butler starting in 1468 or soon after. However, the Corpus Christi document is dated some 27 years later, 20 March 1495, and in the absence of any concrete evidence to the contrary, and if the document is proved to be authentic, we may reasonably assume that the prayers for the soul of Lady Eleanor Butler commenced soon after her death in 1495, aged between 59 to 66 years. If true, it means she was alive when Titulus Regius was first read to Parliament in 1483.
The Legend of Lady Eleanor Butler : an interpretation.
I have to draw attention that a person living under a false name and identity, as already described and made clear, is given a fictitious background history known as a "Legend". It means that the person is at risk and liable to be denounced at any moment. Just one slip and a "Legend" may begin to unravel. This risk-taking, the Achilles heel of officialdom, does not diminish with the death of the person. For instance, since an official register or private book of accounts is a potential "give-away", we may to-day estimate the income and financial status of Eleanor Butler from the time her husband died, in 1461, until the time when she had completed the return of her late husband's land and manors to her father-in-law, in 1468, when she is probably falsely alleged, and I use the words deliberately, to have died (See : CPR 1476-1477, p. 133). I will return to it again. In this connexion, the first page of IPM, 8 Edward IV, is dated 18th? July when a writ was allegedly directed to the escheators in Warwick after the alleged death of 'Eleanor, late wife of Thomas Botiller, knight' on 30 June 1468. The report and findings of the escheator appears in CPR 1467-1477, p. 133. See also Calendar of Fine Rolls 1461-71, p. 215. There is no bequest to the White Carmelites at Norwich.
The inquiry may conceivably agree that a notional person may receive material and psychological support and that the person appointed to ensure this support is known and approved by the case officer. The person appointed to carry out the last wishes, presumably, is also known and approved by the case officer. In the case of Lady Eleanor Butler, we shall say that the person financially supporting Lady Eleanor Butler from 1461 until her real death in 1495 was her sister, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk. We will further say that the person making the gift to College before her death in 1495 (the attribution made in the names of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi reads 'famosa ac Deo devota Eleanora Butler...Benefactrix et amica nostra intima') was, in fact, Lady Eleanor Butler. We shall further say that Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, continued in the role of her sister's case officer during the reigns of Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII. We will return to this again.
For the present, let us return one last time to 1461. The inquiry may not be surprised that there is no record of the alleged meeting between Edward IV and the newly widowed Lady Eleanor Butler whose husband had unwisely fought on the wrong side, and had perhaps lost his life at Towton. Conjecturally, Edward was perhaps reminded that his Godmother, Elizabeth Butler, Lady Say, was the aunt of Lady Eleanor Butler. To be blunt, Edward IV had a hold on every defenseless widow who had lost a husband fighting against him at Towton. He was a nineteen-year-old warrior king enjoying the fruits of a great victory. The women were his to do with as he liked, spoils of war, won fairly in battle and they knew it. The aim of this young man, as we should perhaps expect, was to sleep with the more attractive females and they knew it. In return, they might be allowed to keep some crumbs on the family table, and the family table, and they knew it. Each party knew what was expected of the other. However, in the case of Lady Eleanor Butler, the inquiry may decide the lady perhaps did not fully appreciate the risk that a precontract of marriage, valid in the common law of England, required a Bull of Approval from the Vatican before she might be regarded as a royal wife. The inquiry may further decide that Edward knew his promise to marry was probably insufficient, from long-held custom and belief; or, as the French cleverly put it 'Le roi n'est pas sujet!' Sadly, Lady Eleanor Butler had little experience of the royal court and its time-tested defenses against a man or woman of truth. Truth carried the risk of an adverse reaction from someone more powerful than oneself, and the most powerful person was the king. But Edward was not only interested in beautiful widows. At least one married lady, Lady Elizabeth Lucy, as already described and made clear, appeared at court with her son, Arthur Plantagenet (q.v.), by the tall, fair-haired, and outstandingly handsome young monarch, Edward IV.
We pause, for just one minute, to draw attention to the conjectural risk, as already described and made clear, that Lady Eleanor Butler might decide to appear before the ecclesiastical court, the proper court to deal with such odd matrimonial matters, in a breach of promise case against Edward IV. I have further to draw attention to the central theme of Edward's conjectured instructions to his highly effective department of dirty tricks (the "DDT"). The order was to silence Lady Eleanor Butler and not stop until they had succeeded.
Conjecturally, the first DDT option was the classic defense that a precontract of marriage was invalid if one or other of the parties was already married. If true, we should therefore expect to find evidence of conscious and unconscious agents at work in or about 1461 and, in fact, we do. A recent book seeks to establish that the Sir Thomas Butler killed at the battle of Towton, fighting for Henry VI, was not the husband of Lady Eleanor Butler. If true, it means that Lady Eleanor was perhaps still married when she conjecturally slept with Edward IV and the precontract was therefore invalidated. (See : A. Boardman, The Battle of Towton, Stroud, 1994, pp. 63, 160.)
A second option, derived from the first option, required the DDT to prove that Sir Thomas Butler was an absconding husband. Factually, no one has found the body to-date and there is no known tomb or reliable evidence of the previous existence of a known tomb. Perhaps conscious agents found the body and hid it. If true, it means the case was not brought into open court in view of the risk it might produce a witness who saw him die on the battlefield. The risk, presumably, was too high.
The third and only remaining option was "damage control". The risk of killing and making a martyr of Lady Eleanor Butler was, presumably, again too high. The lesser risk was to persuade her to marry someone else. If this failed, or even if it had succeeded, the one remaining option was to persuade her father-in-law, Lord Sudely, to remain silent in return for a reversion of the lands and manors formerly belonging to Lord Sudely, after his daughter-in-law's alleged "death" in or about 1468, and that is precisely what happened. Lady Eleanor Butler disappeared and was not seen again and the lands reverted back to Lord Sudely.
For the present, I have to draw attention that we do not know factually where Lady Eleanor Butler lived out her remaining years after leaving the Carmelite monastery, presumably, and where she was buried. It is not at all certain, as already explained and made clear, that she died in 1468. What we do know is that John Leland, writing in the sixteenth century, wrote down a traditional piece of history concerning the old manor house, East Hall, at Kenninghall in Norfolk. The house had long since been demolished by the second or third Howard Duke of Norfolk but Leland described the lake which once encompassed it : 'There appeareth at Keninghaule ['Kenninghall'] not far from the Duke of Norfolkes new place a grete mote ['a great moat'] withyn the cumpace ['compass'] whereof there was sumtyme a fair place ['a fine palace'?], and there the saying is that there lay a Quene or sum grete lady, and there dyed.' (See : L. T. Smith, The Itinerary of John Leland, London 1909, p.120). We have cast our net wide into Norfolk and find that East Hall belonged to Eleanor Butler's sister, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, which may be coincidental. However, if Lady Eleanor Butler lived and died at East Hall, true or false, we still do not know where she was buried and the circumstances of her death. We will return to it again.
For the present, Lady Elizabeth's mother, Margaret, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, died on Sunday 14 June 1467, aged 63 years. There is no list of mourners published to-date and no report that Lady Elizabeth's sister, Lady Eleanor Butler, attended the funeral in St Paul's cathedral. Lady Eleanor is alleged to have died in the following year when Elizabeth was the senior ranking lady-in-waiting to King Edward IV's sister, Margaret of York, at the celebrations of her marriage to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The itinerary of the princess is documented in England and in Flanders. Early on Thursday, 23 June 1468, the Princess Margaret embarked near Margate in Kent with her retinue, arriving at Sluis in Zeeland on Saturday, 25 June. On Monday, 27 June, a legal precontract signed by Charles and Margaret created her Duchess of Burgundy and she remained in Sluis until the 30th of June, when she sailed along the sea canal to Damme in West Flanderen, where the formal marriage took place, and, the following day, she sailed along the greater sea canal to Brugge, to attend the traditional festivities at the Celebration of the Golden Tree.
We conjecture that at least one of the invited guests decided to avoid the six hourly reversal of the tidal streams during the sea journey under sail to Brugge and came from London to Dover by road, from England by hired 'passengers' (passage boats) to France, arriving in Calais by the short sea route and then travelling more quickly over flat lands by fast coach to Brugge on good roads in high Summer. I have to draw attention to the overland and cross-channel facilities available at this time as detailed in the History of Gravesend and Port of London by R.P. Cruden (p.155), which enabled Cardinal Wolsey to make a journey on the King’s business from Richmond to Mechelen in no more than 30 hours -- and Brugge is a stop on the way to Mechelen, a shorter journey by at least 100 kilometres, or 60 miles, along the old coast road from Calais. I will revert to it again. For the present, we hear no more about Lady Eleanor Butler but this will shortly change.
The Legend of the Lady of the precontract and the Rolls of Parliament:
We may now begin to draw the strands together. A clear and recognizable pattern is beginning to emerge if Lady Eleanor Butler was still alive when Richard of Gloucester ascended the throne, and the Bill presented to Parliament may have made this clear. If true, it means that the description 'daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury' followed by just three words "who yet liveth", or similar words to the same effect 'that she lived on', were culled by the Tudor DDT, presumably, in an edited version of Richard's original Act repealed on the orders of Henry VII, because Henry wanted to "re-legitimize" his wife, Elizabeth of York. It also means that the sworn evidence of "our" supposed notional Plaintiff, Lady Eleanor Butler, in a subsequent trial in the ecclesiastical court may have presented Henry with a risk he was able to avoid if he allowed her to live on under a false name and identity. Henry did not destabilize the position in Parliament nor challenged the "stand-off" of Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, which had held in place for many years during the reigns of his predecessors.
We may now turn to the short section of Richard's alleged Act that first appeared in print in 1783, which makes serious allegations against Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. The short section of 28 lines is repeated here in full, taken from the printed version of the Rolls of Parliament, with the suggested addition at line 15 :
And here also we consider, how that the said pretensed marriage betwixt the above-named King Edward and Elizabeth Grey, was made of great presumption, without the knowing and assent of the lords of this land, and also by sorcery and witchcraft committed by the said Elizabeth and her mother Jaquetta Duchess of Bedford, as the common opinion of the people, and the public voice and fame is through all the land; and hereafter, if and as the case shall require, shall be proved sufficiently in time and place convenient. And here also we consider, how that the said pretensed marriage was made privily and secretly, without edition of banns, in a private chamber, a profane place, and not openly in the face of the church, after the law of God's church, but contrary thereunto, and the laudable custom of the church of England. And how also, that at the time of the contract of the same pretensed marriage, and before and long time after, the said King Edward was and stood married to one Dame Eleanor Butler, daughter of the old Earl of Shrewsbury, WHO YET LIVETH, with whom the same King Edward had made a precontract of matrimony, long time before he made the said pretensed marriage with the said Elizabeth Grey, in manner and form abovesaid. Which premisses being true, as in very truth they being true, it appeareth and followeth evidently, that the said King Edward during his life, and the said Elizabeth, lived together sinfully and damnably in adultery, against the law of God and of his church; and therefore no marvel that the sovereign lord and the head of this land, being of such ungodly disposition and provoking the ire and indignation of our Lord God, such heinous mischiefs and inconvenients, as is above remembered, were used and committed in the realm among the subjects. Also it appeareth evidently and followeth, that all the issue and children of the said King Edward, being bastards, and unable to inherit or to claim anything by inheritance, by the law and custom of England.
The second line 'King Edward and Elizabeth Grey' means Edward IV and Elizabeth Grey (née Woodville). The fourth line 'and also by sorcery and witchcraft' does not take into account advances in medical knowledge since the fifteenth century ; for instance, the unbalancing effect in certain males caused by spontaneous production of excessive quantities of testosterone, adrenalin and other hormones. The charge that Elizabeth Woodville was the manipulative daughter of an ambitious mother and an allumeuse de marque is interesting but hardly worthy of an Act of Parliament.
Nonetheless, I have to draw attention to the remarkable claim recorded in the Rolls of Parliament that Elizabeth Woodville and her mother, Jaquetta, Duchess of Bedford, had used 'sorcery and witchcraft' to entrap Edward IV. The inquiry may feel inclined to dismiss the allegation as superstition and ignorance but it was commonly held at the time throughout Europe that certain women had the power to entrap men and since Edward's nephew, Henry VIII, made the charge of 'sorcery and witchcraft' inter alia in the remarkable court proceedings more than half a century later against his wife, Anne Boleyn, of which she was found guilty and beheaded, I would like, for just one more minute, to consider the allegation seriously.
The first husband of Elizabeth Woodville, Sir John Grey, may also have died at Towton, like Sir Thomas Butler, fighting on the Lancastrian side (1461). It means that Elizabeth Woodville was a widow for some three years before she met Edward IV. It is not at all clear but Elizabeth Woodville was staying near London in 1464 and Edward could not keep away, presumably, for he allegedly married Elizabeth Woodville, if we may believe Edward, on his first visit (1 May). In this connexion, I have to draw attention that Elizabeth Woodville did not say she was married -- Edward said it. She had said nothing at all, and one interpretation of this odd silence, the alleged marriage without the customary calling of the banns, inimical in the eyes of the church, perhaps on the eve of a day widely associated with sorcery and witchcraft, May Day, was enrolled 19 years later in 1483.
The inquiry may conceivably agree that the first golden rule for a royal consort is to ensure the ongoing interest of the monarch. The second golden rule is to remain silent. Elizabeth Woodville was allegedly counselled in the ways of the world by her mother. To-day, an ambitious parent might tell an equally ambitious daughter that the way to gain the interest of a king is to remain silent whilst ensuring that the testosterone of a man of power, the most powerful cocktail known to man or woman, is stimulated immediately and perhaps beyond his wildest dreams with or without a precontract.
If we may now return 19 years to November 1464, some six months after the alleged marriage on 1 May, Edward belatedly announced to Parliament that he was married. At the same time, Warwick was negotiating for Edward to make a political marriage abroad, to keep the peace with France and Burgundy. I have further to draw attention that Warwick was a diplomat and politician unlikely to be fazed by Edward's rejection of his niece, presumably, nor by one more controversial precontract, nor when Elizabeth Woodville was crowned in Westminster, 26 May 1465. The risk was too high and he had too much to lose in a battle with a provocative twenty-three-year-old monarch, twelve years his junior, who had yet to learn that quiet diplomacy can gain more than battles on battlegrounds. Warwick died, aged forty-three, in 1471. Edward died, aged forty-one, in 1483. The third and last golden rule of the consort is to outlive the king, and the imprint of the Dowager Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, because we have to make progress, is only outlined here.
We may now move on some four years into the reign of Edward IV. It is now 1468 and, in this connexion, I have to draw attention to CPR 1476-77, p.122, and the belated record of a royal pardon to Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, dated 8 December 1468. I have further to draw attention to CPR 1476-1485, p.75 and p.503, showing a royal pardon, dated 20 March 1468, some three months later (the year changed on Lady Day, 25 March, in the 15th century), granted to the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk jointly, ‘for having alienated lands held in chief’. The reporting is sloppy and was no doubt meant to be sloppy. However, the dates of the royal pardons fit well with the circumstantial evidence of the alleged year of death of Lady Eleanor Butler. Another entry shows that on 28 January 1469, her brother, Humphrey, received a general pardon. This means that up to that date, from some unspecified previous date, Humphrey had been in the service of the king and was now discharged from further duty without risk of being charged for some slight misdemeanour that might subsequently come to light. We take no further inference from this.
In the absence of any concrete evidence to the contrary, we shall say that the former Sudely lands and manors transferred and at one time belonging to Sir Thomas Butler and, after his death, the home and residual property in the possession of his wife, Lady Eleanor Butler, were "alienated" after her official death by her Mowbray sister and were now in dispute. The dispute was ultimately resolved, presumably, to the greater or lesser benefit of each party to the dispute. The lands and manors reverted to Lord Sudely. (CPR 1476-1477, p.133) The Norfolks were pardoned jointly. It suggests that Elizabeth was acting unilaterally, perhaps trying to save her widowed sister's property from an acquisitive Lord Sudely who had been "paid" once, and perhaps more than enough, with a generous dowry of £1000 from the Talbot family, in excess of 1.5 million pounds sterling to-day, perhaps from the purse of Elizabeth herself. The joint pardon was perhaps a slap on the wrist to her husband to control his wife or he would be held responsible jointly with her for any future transgressions.
CPR 1461-1467, p.212, shows that Elizabeth was accustomed to dealing in her own name with the problems of land ownership for on 20 October 1462 she was granted that during the minority of her husband, 'she may have and enjoy all the rents, revenues and profits of the lordships and manors wherein certain lawful grants and estates were made to them in tail for her jointure at the time of the solemnisation of their espousals'. Elizabeth was older than her husband and may have continued to dominate after her husband had attained his majority. We may further assume that Elizabeth was entrepreneurial and as acquisitive as Lord Sudely. There is more.
I have further to draw attention to a section concerning our investigation into the fate of the princes wherein, if I may first summarize briefly, Edward IV was prepared to recognize that Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, 'was entitled to divers possessions by reason of her jointure and dower', further entreating her 'to forbear and leave a great part thereof', even during her lifetime, to her son-in-law, Edward's younger son, Richard, Duke of York, even if she or her daughter predeceased him and left no children. (CPR 1476-1485, p.75 ; p.503)
Elizabeth's one and only child, Anne Mowbray (1472-1481), married as a child to “our “ Richard, Duke of York, did in fact predecease her husband, and Edward's younger son was in fact the inheritor of the Mowbray lands of his wife after her death -- but he mysteriously "disappeared".
It means that the two Talbot sisters, Eleanor and Elizabeth, were close kin by marriage to the king and the young rightful heir who disappeared -- the latter, his mother-in-law, and the former, his late aunt, Lady Eleanor Butler, who had also mysteriously "disappeared". We shall return to this later.
The list of the lands and other properties and the titles awarded in this dynastic marriage of two young children, agreed by their parents, Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, and Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, and which took place on 15 January 1478, following the death of the 4th Duke of Norfolk, John Mowbray, (1444-1476), are described in the Complete Peerage under the entry "Richard, Duke of York". They are extensive and represent, for each side, one of the greatest fortunes ever acquired by marriage. The alliance diminished the risk of an existing double jeopardy of bigamy and bastardy for the king and queen and their children, presumably, and, in return for their continued and on-going silence in the matter of the precontract, the king and queen, "our" conjecturally assumed Defendant and his wife, perhaps allowed the Duchess of Norfolk's elder sister, Lady Eleanor Butler, "our" assumed Plaintiff, to continue living under a false name and identity. The alliance further provided mutually assured "insurance" by each one of the two parties for as long as they might live. The on-going guarantee of performance was their children and what they were prepared to bestow on them. However, within five years both children had disappeared, death had intervened and scythed down and swept away the female hostage to fortune ; and, perhaps an even worse fate, an on-going notional death, awaited the other. I will revert to this again.
Finally, the inquiry may decide that lawyers in the next reign were perhaps lining up to cross-examine Robert Stillington who claimed he had performed the precontracted ceremony of marriage some twenty-two years previously, in 1461, when he was made Keeper of the Privy Seal, and later that year, Edward IV had awarded him an annual salary of £365 and, early in 1465, soon after the king made the announcement of his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, he received the bishopric of Bath & Wells, and had since remained silent on the matter. Stillington might have suffered the ordeal of being branded a lying and self-serving opportunist by Henry VII's legal experts and punished accordingly as a warning to others. Stillington was indeed taken to the Tower, and as perhaps we should expect if he promised not to repeat it and continued to remain silent, he was released soon after. (See : A. E. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford, 1959, Vol. 3, pp. 1777-78).
The Legend of the Lady of the precontract :
The Leslau Conjecture
There are two possible options in the case of the "missing person", Lady Eleanor Butler. Either, Lady Eleanor died and was buried in an unmarked grave, with no bell and taper, no priest and procession, no lawyer and close family and extended family led by the chief mourner, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk. Or, in the absence of any concrete evidence to the contrary over a substantial period of time, do we say there is one more option, the one and only remaining option, that the missing person perhaps lived on ?
I have to draw attention that on Wednesday the 13th of July in the year 1468, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, former lady-in-waiting to the newly created Duchess of Burgundy, returned from Flanders to England where, we are told, the news of her sister's death was awaiting her. The members of the inquiry may find it slightly troubling that no friend or member of the family took upon himself or herself the responsibility of immediately informing the Duchess of the apparently sudden and unexpected death of her elder sister during the alleged period of at least thirteen days, from 30th June to 13th July, while she was abroad. Messengers from London, post-horse to Dover, fast passenger Dover towards Calais and post-horse Calais to Brugge, man and tide serving, might take about 24 hours. The inquiry may conceivably decide that it is this apparent lack of consideration for the feelings of a close relative, if one has perhaps experienced and is sensitive to this sort of thing, that may oblige us to assume that fake "clues" are being hurled at us from every side, as by now we should perhaps expect from Edward's highly-efficient DDT putting into operation their plan for the official demise of Lady Eleanor Butler.
By now, the inquiry will be familiar with some of the methods of national security agencies in the case of notional persons. Briefly, with the permission of the crown and officialdom, a person at risk disappears and then reappears with a false name and identity -- a person who only apparently exists. There is one more option for the appointed case officer. The real person may be given an "official" death whilst alive. The cognoscenti are provided with an alibi at the pre-arranged time of the "official" death, such as a holiday abroad, in order to avoid any retrospective charge of collusion if the matter subsequently comes to light. However, it is a high-risk strategy since in most cases it is this alibi that enables a security agency to name conjecturally the lying cognoscenti and it is the police who may then decide to make further inquiries and, unless completely satisfied, to charge the suspected wrongdoers with conspiring to pervert the course of justice, or even murder, the most serious crime in the legal calendar -- leaving it thereafter to paid advocates of the Crown to win their cases.
For instance, I have to draw attention that Elizabeth and other important family members were abroad at the alleged time of death of Lady Eleanor Butler. The offered "proof" is that the legal processes of death were not set in motion until after they had returned. The proof is perhaps too neat. The truth is more complex.
The alleged Will allegedly showing the June 30 date and circumstances of death of Lady Eleanor Butler, as already explained and made clear, is missing. The Inquisition Post Mortem makes no mention of a Will having been submitted for Probate. Officialdom did not insist on having proof of death. Her sister, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, did not insist. Edward IV did not insist. Elizabeth Woodville did not insist. Nobody insisted.
For the present, apart from identifying her case officer and other purely administrative matters, such as not revealing the actual death of a notional person and burying him or her under a false name : the remaining question is what was the new name and new identity of "our" conjectural notional person and where is she buried ?
In this connexion, the notional person is not allowed to make a Will since it must be signed and sworn, for example, 'The Will of Lady Eleanor Butler, also known as (the false name and styling)', a "give-away". Furthermore, the Will carries the date and place of death, the age at death, the beneficiaries, and to swear a document under a false name is a serious offence ; namely, perjury. The Will also carries the name of the lawyer who drew up the Will for Probate. The lawyer must keep within the law, as he is trained to do, and since no law may be broken in the case of a notional person -- he may invent ways to avoid it.
There are other ways to make progress and still stay within the law. Advances in modern science and technology provide new methods that may allow us to discover conclusively whether or not a living person is a notional person and, if dead, the real identity and age at death. For instance, it has been argued that Lady Eleanor Butler may have attended the funeral of her mother in St Paul's cathedral. It has also been argued, by the Archivist of the Canonesses of Windesheim, Sister Mary Salomé, if Lady Eleanor was a professed nun, that she would not have been allowed to attend the funeral of her mother. Some have reasoned that Lady Eleanor was probably buried in a plain coffin. Others suppose that she was a lay sister and buried in an oak coffin. Human nature abhors the vacuum of not knowing but there are some things that most of us do know about ourselves, our friends and family, if we love them -- and I would like for just one minute to concentrate on this.
Personally, if my sister were a notional person, I would not want anyone to know lest, unwittingly, I might put her at risk from an enemy, or perhaps a careless friend. I might feel obliged to create a "blind" and, with a little help from my friends and her case officer, to nail it down. When she died, we would arrange to have her buried under her false name in a "safe" place, leaving a false trail to "dead-end" any retrospective investigation, complete fiction, which the watchers would hopefully pick up and deposit far away. I would see that her charitable endowments were maintained in her name, for as long as I lived and beyond, as though she is still alive, without telling the beneficiaries more than absolutely necessary, on a "need-to-know" basis only ; and, when I died, I would like to be buried near my sister 'for company's sake'.
I would also want to take care of my sister's child or children, who, similarly, would have been brought up under a false name and identity, and provide for them after my death, unless I could do this while I am alive. The inquiry may recall that there were no children reported in the marriage of Sir Thomas Butler to Lady Eleanor Butler. At the same time, there is a report that Lady Eleanor Butler entered the monastery of the White Carmelites in Norwich in or about 1462. The investigation would not be complete unless we consider the possibility, however remote and unlikely it might at first seem, that the association of Lady Eleanor Butler and the Carmelites arose if she gave birth to an illegitimate child of Edward IV, named Thomas Cosyn, at the monastery in or about 1462.
Following the criteria of the theory of notional persons, the legend of Thomas Cosyn would require concealment of the true circumstances of his birth, including the true date of birth, and substitution of a false date of birth. In this connexion, there is evidence to show that a certain Thomas Cosyn was registered in Corpus Christi College, at the University of Cambridge, in the Markaunt Register for 1462, next after the name of the Master, Dr. John Botwright.
This odd juxtaposition of the Master and most junior member of College, registered without giving his age and family origins, merely described as a 'Norfolk man' and, since there is no likely family with the name of Cosyn in Norfolk, the evidence suggests a VIP notional person perhaps registered at birth. The VIP status of the supposed notional person is confirmed when it is seen that Thomas Cosyn was promoted to the Mastership twenty-five years later, in October 1487, when there were senior Fellows above him, and Cosyn retained the Mastership until his death on 9 July 1515. If we want one safe and simple reason for this, the case officer is required to provide a means of income for the notional person. However, as we should expect by now in the case of a notional person, there is no record of his age at death, his place of burial or a Will. This is confirmed in a letter to the present author, dated 6 July 1999, from the Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts, Dr Mark Nicholls, at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge, England, CB3 9DR. Telephone Cambridge 01223 333000. Fax 01225 333160. The case is unique. In return for their collective silence on the matter, once more as we should expect, and since the registration was not fraudulent, an endowment 'ex fundatione Helionore Butler', which is undated, was formally acknowledged on behalf of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College.
In this connexion, since there is the later association of John Clement with Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in John Claymond and the Early History of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, pp. 897-899 (English History Review, CXII, No. 448, Sep. 1997), for which no documentary trace remains to-day, all evidence conjecturally removed by his case officer, we therefore seek the recommendation of the inquiry to find and test, by DNA profiling, the remains of Thomas Cosyn of Norfolk, later chaplain to Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, and one of the executors of her Will, since the findings may reveal conclusively a son of Edward IV, a nephew of Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, and cousin of Anne Mowbray and Richard, Duke of York, also known as John Clement. If true, Thomas Cosyn was one more rightful heir to the throne of England with an impediment.
I have to draw attention that Sir George Buc (or 'Buck'), Master of the Revels and gentleman of the king's privy chamber (d.1623), wrote a quarto book in 1605 'addressed and consecrated to the King's Majesty', in which he claimed a child had been born of the union of Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler. It just so happens that the allegation has not been examined systematically todate. Finally, the Thomas Cosyn investigation is a relatively simple matter to-day and may provide yet further information in an on-going method of inquiry. (See : BUC or BUCK, Sir GEORGE, DNB, p. 170. See also : G. Buck, A History of the Life and Reign of Richard the Third, London, 1646, p.116.)
Factually, I have to draw attention that Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, died and was buried in a religious house in London, the Minoresses' Convent in Aldgate, which stood outside the City Wall nearly opposite the Tower of London, where she passed her last years in 'the great house within the close' in the company of a remarkable group of ladies, to which I must also draw attention. The first is said to have been her sister-in-law, Jane Talbot, widow of Humphrey, who died in 1505 and desired burial in the Minories near the unnamed wife of a ‘John Mongomery’. (See : Nicolas. Test. Vetusta. p.471) The second is said to have been Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Brackenberry, Constable of the Tower, who had been killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 fighting on Richard's side. It is also said that from about 1504 Elizabeth Brackenberry was living in reduced circumstances at the Minories. Lodging with her, it is also said, was a sister or cousin of Sir James Tyrrell, Mary Tyrrell, and also Mary's aunt, a certain Anne Mongomery, whose husband had been an executor of Edward IV's Will and another supporter of Richard III.
I have to draw attention that in her Will, Elizabeth asked to be interred 'nyghe unto the place wher Anne Mongomery lyeth buried'. (See : Will of Elizabeth Talbot, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, PRO, PROBATE 11/15.ff. 196-197).
Factually, I have to draw attention that Elizabeth (daughter of John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, thrice married, Norfolk was her second husband (d.1465/7) ; she died between November 1506 and May 1507) did not ask to be buried near her one and only offspring, Anne Mowbray (d.1481) whose coffin was recently discovered in the Minories. This is odd.
The "Times of London", dated 15 January 1965, carried the following under the banner heading :
STEPNEY COFFIN CONTAINS A DUCHESS OF YORK:
A small lead coffin found on a building site in Stepney on December 11 , has been established by experts at the London Museum as almost certainly containing the remains of Anne Mowbray, Duchess of York. She was the child bride of Richard Duke of York, one of the princes believed to have been murdered in the Tower of London in 1483 or 1485.
Anne Mowbray (1472-1481) was married in great splendour in St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, when she was just over five years old, to Richard, second son of King Edward IV. Her bridegroom was five and a half at the time of the marriage.
This important and fascinating discovery has involved legal, scientific, historical, medical and ecclesiastical experts in prolonged investigations during the past month and it is expected that the programme of research will probably continue for another six months.
The coffin has been opened on the instruction of the coroner and with the approval of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Medical experts have confirmed that the human remains inside are those of a child whose age would have been consistent with the age of Anne Mowbray, who was eight years eleven months at the time of her death.
Announcing these results in an interim report yesterday, the London Museum said that it was only after careful laboratory treatment of a largely obscured leaden inscription attached to the coffin that the importance of the discovery was realized.
This inscription, translated from the Latin, read: "Here lies Anne, Duchess of York; daughter and heir of John, formerly Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal, Earl of Nottingham, Earl of Warenne, Marshal of England, and Lord of Mowbray, Segrave and Gower; the late wife of Richard, Duke of York, the second most illustrious prince of Edward the Fourth, King of England, France and Lord of Ireland; who died at Greenwich on the nineteenth day of November in the year of our Lord 1481 and in the twenty-first year of the reign of the said Lord King."
One of the problems still to be unravelled is how and at what date the coffin arrived in Stepney, since Anne Mowbray was buried with great ceremony in Westminster Abbey, in the Chapel of St Erasmus. The coffin was found alone in a sealed vault about eleven feet below ground. The vault had chalk and brick walls and an arched roof largely of brick and it lay within the site of a medieval nunnery belonging to the order of St. Clare.
This was known as the Abbey of the Minoresses or the Minories which stood just outside the city wall and close to the Tower of London. The building site was near St Clare Street...
Inside the coffin were found the skull covered with matted hair, probably more fair than dark, the chest, clear of bones, and the lower part of the coffin containing light brown silt through which protruded bones. The remains of a wrapping lay in fragments over parts of the body and the microscope has shown the threads to be linen.
A list of 70 specialists was compiled and the examination began with each piece of soil recorded geographically and preserved in a jar. Under a 20-power dissecting microscope every fragment was examined and seeds, insect cases, finger nails and head hairs were found near the foot. Questions for the specialists had to be carefully and quickly formulated because of the danger of the finds deteriorating.
The bones are to be examined by radiologists, anatomists, osteologists and dentists and the medical history ascertained so far is possible, although it is expected that little will be discovered of this...
Today, January 15, is the anniversary of the marriage of the children, which took place after protracted negotiations between the widowed Duchess of Norfolk, and Edward IV whose purpose was to obtain the Mowbray inheritance.
The remains of Anne Mowbray were reinterred in Westminster Abbey on 31 May 1965. The Queen was represented at the ceremony by the Dean of Westminster, and among those present were Lord and Lady Mowbray. It had been established that the Duchess of York had died a natural death.
The association of the nunnery belonging to the order of St. Clare with the Clare family of East Anglia and Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, may be coincidental. What is not coincidental, presumably, of low probability, and unlikely to the point of rejection on the grounds of credible disbelief, is that the Sisters of the Order received the coffin unaware that it was the coffin of Anne Mowbray.
Similarly, the Dean & Chapter of Westminster were aware that the coffin of Anne Mowbray was being moved from the Chapel of St. Erasmus.
In this connexion, since the Erasmus Chapel was taken down in 1502 to make way for what we call to-day the Henry VII chapel, we shall say that the coffin of Anne Mowbray was reburied in the Minories during the lifetime of her mother Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, who died without mentioning the reburial in her Will. I will return to this later.
For the present, if we may turn back for just one moment to the politics of the day when Henry VII came to the throne, in 1485, the inquiry may recall the new Holbein evidence suggesting that the Tudor DDT had "notionally murdered" the rightful heirs, Richard, Duke of York, and Edward V, in 1483. However, if Lady Eleanor Butler AND the princes were still alive, it means that this was the hold that Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, had on Henry. If true, there was a double indemnity for Henry and minimum risk for Elizabeth if she continued to remain silent concerning the first official fiction, the death of her sister ; and, the second official fiction, the death of her son-in-law.
Conjecturally, the "stand-off" put in place by Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, a clever woman accustomed to getting her own way and knowing how to get it, was holding. The copycat second "stand-off", put in place by the mother of the two York princes, the Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, (who allowed her daughter, Elizabeth of York, to marry the Tudor king, Henry VII, on condition that he allow her sons to live as notional persons and to pay and provide for them) was also holding. Henry's wife, the princes' sister, Elizabeth of York, was acting simultaneously as guarantee for the good behaviour of her two brothers, and this was also holding. Henry was once more walking the tightrope of the Tudor succession. His decision not to challenge the validity of the precontract in Parliament but simply declare Richard's Act null and void was consistent with his behaviour when faced with one conspiracy after another throughout his entire reign of 24 years. He stood on the rope and juggled.
We therefore propose that Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, who had entered the Minories at the beginning of Henry's reign, in 1485, a highly-motivated person with good credentials for the task, had taken on the role of her sister's case officer from about the time of her sister's official "death", in or about the year 1468, in the reign of Edward IV.
Furthermore, at some as yet undetermined time before her own death in 1506, during the reign of Henry VII, and despite the great fire at the convent in 1797, it is perhaps still possible that new techniques of testing organic and inorganic material in the sealed entrance to the vault may determine, close enough, the absolute parameters of the date of the actual interment of her daughter, by age and origin, in an on-going method of inquiry.
Before we may leave the nunnery, we find that at New Year 1505, Thomas More, "our" Thomas More, dedicated his first book, his Life of John Picus, to his 'right entirely beloved sister in Christ', Joyeuce Lee or Leigh, also living in the Minories, the alleged sister of Edward Lee, but there is no known proof to-date. Many have assumed she was a Poor Clare nun but there is no evidence of the month and year of her profession. More was an occasional visitor, we are told, to this lady he describes as a 'sister in Christ', which can also mean a female friend or relation now dead, and who is now living as 'Joyeuce Lee' (a near-homophone of 'Joyously'), and if by now one is sensitized to the word games of the More circle, the mind prickles with suspicion. There is more. Edward Lee belonged to an important Kent family and his grandfather had been mayor of London. He was studying Greek at Louvain in 1505 where another English graecus, John Clement, "our" John Clement, was inscribed in the university.
Finally, we seek the recommendations of the inquiry to re-examine the original report of the 1965 excavation of the Minories showing the location of the burial area, if there were coffins, in or outside the sealed vault, the names on them, their precise location, to where they were removed, by whom, when, and if they are still there. These royal burial locations may tell us why a mother deliberately chose not to request burial near her daughter but, conjecturally, near her sister, Eleanor Butler, perhaps also known as Anne Mongomery (sic), the rightful Queen of Edward IV of England.
The reburial of Anne, Duchess of York, is noted in a 16th century manuscript in the British Library. When the body was discovered in 1965, the writer of the Times article seemed unaware of the existence of this document although it had been transcribed by E. M. Tomlinson in his History of the Minories (London 1907) and was included by M. Reddan in the Victoria County History of London (London 1909) and by A. F. C. Bourdillon in The Order of Minoresses in England (Manchester 1926). The evidence is found in Lansdowne Ms. 205, folio 19 (old numeration 21). One folio page, 20, is apparently missing. Lansdowne 205 is a folio volume containing 18 items of which eight are genealogical or heraldic. K. G. T. McDonnell notes that the back of the sheet is blank except for a small and all but illegible note. The watermark is visible. On the face of the sheet, there is a list in two 16th century hands of 'the persons being of noble blood which be buried within the monastery of the Minories'. Some of the statements in this list are confirmed from other sources, one seems confused, none appears to be contradicted by other evidence. Its date of composition is not given but the first 12 entries were written down after 1514/15 since Dame Elizabeth Pole, the 12th entry, was alive before that year. The last entry, in a different hand and in a different style from the others, was written after the death of Dame Mare Reding in 1534. Evidence for the statements which follow is to be found in The Complete Peerage, except where otherwise stated :
LANSDOWNE MS 205, FOLIO 19
The Names of all the persons being of Noble Blood
which be buried within the monastery of the Minories
(1) In primis Lord Edmund, founder of the said monastery, Earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, which Lord Edmund was son of King Henry the third and brother to King Edward the first and his heart is buried at the North end of the High Altar in the Minories and his body is buried at Westminster in the Abbey. [Edmund died in 1296]
(2) Item Dame Elizabeth, Countess of Clare, lieth buried on the south side of the said church without.
[Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Clare in her own right, thrice married, died in 1360. Her Will directed burial in the Minories] (See: N. H. Nicolas, Testamenta Vetusta, p. 56)
(3) Item Dame Isabel, daughter of Thomas Wodestok, Duke of Gloucester, is buried in the midst of the Choir of the said Church.
[Dame Isabel was the daughter of the sixth son of Edward III, she was a nun and became Abbess of the Minories. She died in the early 1400s] (See: V. C. H. London, i. 518)
(4) Item Dame Margaret, Countess of Shrewsbury, daughter of Humfrey, Duke of Buckingham, is buried on the south side of the high altar.
[I have to draw attention to a series of contradictions : (1) Margaret, Countess of Shrewsbury, was NOT the daughter of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham. (2) Katherine, Countess of Shrewsbury, was. She died in 1476. (3) Margaret, Countess of Shrewsbury, grandmother of Anne, Duchess of York, was buried in St. Paul's]
(5) Item Dame Anne, Duchess of York, daughter to Lord Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, is buried in the said choir.
[Born 10 December 1472, married 17 January 1477/8; died 26 November 1481; buried first in the Chapel of St Erasmus in Westminster Abbey, removed to the Minories in or about 1502 and reburied in the Choir]
(6) Item Dame Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, mother to the said Dame Anne, Duchess of York, is buried in the Choir aforesaid.
[Youngest daughter of John Talbot, Earl of Shrewbury; thrice married, Norfolk was her second husband. He died in 1465/6. She died some time between November 1506 and May 1507. Her Will directed her burial near to Anne Mongomery] (See: Nicolas. Test. Vetusta. p. 471)
(7) Item Dame Agnes, Countess of Pembroke, is buried in the choir of the said church.
[Daughter of Roger Mortimore, Earl of March, married to Laurence, Lord Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, who died in 1348. Married (second) John de Hakluyt, she died in 1368. Her will directed burial in the Minories]
(8) Item Dame Eleanor Scrope, wife to the Lord Scrope, and daughter to Raufe Nevyll, Abbess of the said monastery.
[Geoffry le Scrope of Masham, husband of the Abbess of the Minories, Dame Eleanor Scrope, died in Lithuania in 1362]
(9) Item Dame Katharine Ingham, wife of John Ingham, Abbess also.
[Described as Abbess in the Will of Elizabeth, Countess of Clare, dated 1535, proved 1360] (See: Nicolas. Test. Vetusta. p. 56)
(10) Item The Countess of Dunbar in Scotland lieth buried in the Chapter House, sometime Nun of this place.
[The identification of the person described as the 'Countess of Dunbar' is contradicted and in dispute. George, the 10th Earl, came to England in 1400 with his wife and family and stayed until 1407. He was granted lands in England. He died in 1420. Either his wife, or their daughter Elizabeth, may have returned to London] (See : J. B. Paul, The Scots Peerage, iii, pp. 270-276)
(11) Item Edmund de la Pole and Dame Margaret, his wife, having been buried in the said Church.
[Edmund, Duke of Suffolk, son of John, Duke of Suffolk, was attainted in 1503/4 and summarily executed in 1513. Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope, died in 1514/5. Both were buried in the Minories]
(12) Item Dame Elizabeth de la Pole, daughter of the said Edmund sometime Nun of the said monastery.
[Elizabeth de la Pole was professed in 1510, recorded alive in February 1514/5, but not among the list of nuns receiving pensions in 1539]
(13) Item Dame Mare Redyng, wife of [blank] Redyng, Esquire, which Mare was sister unto Sir William Brandon, Knight, father unto Lord Charles, Duke of Suffolk, lieth buried in the Close Choir of the monastery of the Minories ['Mynores'].
[K. G. T. McDonnell noticed that the author of this item omits 'said' ('of the said Minories') and spells Minories quite differently. Mare Reding died in 1534] (See: P. C. C. 22 Hogen)
We request that the former site of the Minories in Aldgate should be formally identified to-day on the large scale Ordinance Survey map of the area with a view to obtaining permission to re-open the burial area, which has since been built over, and designating it a site of prime historical interest with permanent access underground. The aim and objective is to find the coffins of each one of the ladies in the circle of Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, buried in the Choir in the Minories. Perhaps her sister lived, died and was buried, under one of those names. If true, the coffin may have been seen by the original investigators close to the coffin of Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, and later removed elsewhere.
In this connexion, we further seek recommendations for DNA profiling of the remains in each coffin since the relationship of two sisters is self-evident by this method. Predictably, the paternal and maternal DNA should match and, as there were only two daughters of the second marriage of their father, further evidence obtained from DNA profiling of their father and mother would be conclusive. If findings are negative, the present case falls to the ground. If findings are positive, it means we have found the missing person, Lady Eleanor Butler. It also means that the Carmelite monastery in Norwich was, perhaps, the original 'Norfolk blind' (a ‘screen’) and 'Norfolk capon' (a 'red herring'), concealing the birth of the least impedimented rightful heir to the throne of England. (See : Oxford English Dictionary 'Norfolk' and 'Norfolk capon').
We continue to play the game of "Royal Continuity", wherein one male or female player accedes finally to the Crown, avoiding the “Impostors”, “Pretenders” and “Scissor Hands” of history. For instance, we continue to look for evidence of the continued existence of Lady Eleanor Butler. Meanwhile, Thomas More continues to stand at the bar of history while we continue the investigation into whether or not his Richard was a blind to lay down a smokescreen over the continued existence of Richard, Duke of York, also known as John Clement.
If true, it means that More's son-in-law, Richard, Duke of York, married to More's adoptive daughter, Margaret Giggs, had been first married, when a child, to Anne Mowbray, whose maternal aunt was Lady Eleanor Butler. Oddly, it is said of John Clement, many years later in Flanders, that he had been married twice.
We have cast our net wide and having drawn it in we find, on this occasion, the name of Lady Eleanor Butler entangled in the mesh with More misidentifying her for Lady Elizabeth Lucy in his Richard. We may now join her name to that of More's publisher, his nephew, Judge William Rastell, who also failed to note or correct the error, remembering further that William Rastell was married to the eldest daughter of John and Margaret Clement, Winifred Clement, perhaps a covert princess, which suggests that the smokescreen laid down by More was not merely to conceal the continued existence of Richard, Duke of York, but also the doubtful legitimacy of his son-in-law, and that this blind was finally nailed down by Clement's son-in-law, William Rastell, in 1557, in More's "Workes". There is more.
The unraveling strands of the Legend of Lady Eleanor Butler expose the core of another problem, which may have concerned More, the legitimacy of the rightful heir's sister, Elizabeth of York, Queen of England. More understood that the aim and objective of Elizabeth of York’s husband, Henry VII, was for the Tudor line to start "clean" and free of encumbrances and everything may be said to flow from that premise from 1485 until the death of Henry VII in 1509.
In this connexion, the inquiry may recall More's sad poem upon the death of Elizabeth of York in 1502 with its repeated line "Now here I lie" or "Nowhere I lie", and as by now we should expect from a person living daily at risk under an oppressive regime and writing in an allegorical mode, it prepares us, if we are perhaps sensitive to this sort of thing, for the simulation and dissimulation in More's History of King Richard The Thirde.
What has proved troublesome down the centuries is the 'what is' of Thomas More, when he put on his legal hat ; and the 'what should be', when he took it off. We shall return to it again.
¶ Part Eight
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY LONDON
The unknown artist appears to confirm the history, in Holbein's method; meriting further investigation of the date of the painting, 'about 1593'.
Attention is drawn to the thumb and fingers of the right hand:
1. The broken lines of the first and second fingers.
2. The unbroken line of the third finger; and, the ring with a ruby.
3. A gold ring set with a pearl hides the first phalange of the fourth finger. Only the finger tip is visible.
4. The impediment in the first phalange of the thumb.
5. The ruby set in the ring on the second phalange of the thumb is flawed.
The anomalies are interpreted as:
The lines of descent of Edward I and II are broken ('Édouart I' and 'Édouart II' are near-homophones of 'Et-doigt [I]' and '[II]', meaning 'the first and second fingers') -- Richard III, King of England, in unbroken line of descent from Edward III ('Édouart III' or 'the third finger') -- lawfully married (since 'pierre' means 'stone'. a ring set with a ruby [or a precious or semi-precious stone like a bloodstone] means the marriage of the wearer was lawful and blessed by the holder of the Chair of St. Peter ['l'alliance avec Pierre' or '[Saint] Pierre']; i.e. the Pope) -- reveals the extremity 'l'extrèmité', (‘tip of the finger' or 'extreme behaviour') -- of Edward IV ('Édouart IV'). Richard reveals the first secret marriage of Edward to Lady Eleanor Butler, when both were free to marry, and proclaims his brother's second marriage unlawful. Since pearl is animal in origin, a 'ring without a stone'; ('alliance sans pierre' or 'Pierre'), literally, 'marriage without the Pope' (an unlawful union) means, presumably, the bigamous marriage of Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville -- and the bastardization of their son, Edward V. The artist appears to confirm this interpretation by referring to the illegitimacy of Edward V ('Édouart V') or, 'the fifth finger': the thumb with an impediment ['noué'], in French.
I have to draw attention, one last time, to the NPG version of the portrait of Richard III. The inquiry may recall that the tip ('l'extrèmité') of the fourth finger ('du doigt quatre'), a near-homophone of ('d'Édouart IV'), has a linguistic equivalent : 'the extreme behaviour of Edward IV.' We have tested four options. Option No. 1 : Edward's Bill of Attainder and subsequent execution of his brother, George, on grounds of 'unspecified treason'. Option No. 2 : Edward's alleged secret marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler. Option No. 3 : Edward's later marriage, again in secret, to Elizabeth Woodville. Option No. 4 : Edward's offhand treatment of parliament. The inquiry may agree that the artist may be referring to any individual one of these options, or all four, which may be described, jointly and collectively, 'the extreme behaviour of Edward IV'.
However, a quick glance at the painting shows us that the 'extreme behaviour' appears to be closely connected with the ring set with a pearl 'the union not blessed by the Pope' ; conceivably, Option No. 3, a narrow ex post facto allusion by the unknown artist to Edward's alleged bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. However, there is some real and on-going difficulty with this argument, since 'the union not blessed by the Pope' might extend, equally and perhaps with even more justification, to include Edward's alleged earlier precontracted marriage to Lady Eleanor Butler, Option No. 2. In conclusion, I would now like to test both options, linguistically and in some depth, which merely anticipates a possible solution and elimination of one or the other and may offer a new option, or options, in an on-going method of inquiry. It will not take long.
Since the French word 'anneau d’alliance', or, elliptically ‘alliance’, meaning 'a wedding ring', or a symbol of the union, is only known from the early 17th century, we must once more detach ourselves and let go, for just one minute, the environmental conditioning that comes from living in the 21st century. Similarly, since the traditional plain wedding ring, symbol of the union, is only known two hundred or more years later, it is not at all clear if the ring depicted in the portrait may symbolize marriage in the 15th century. The French word 'alliance' describes : (1) a union contracted by mutual engagement ; (2) a juridic lien existing between a spouse and the parent of her conjoint, in the sense that 'parenté' can mean a relation by marriage, and, by extension, the families of one and the other. These definitions date from as far back as the thirteenth century. (See : Le Petit Robert, 'alliance').
Similarly, in 16th century England, an 'alliance' may mean : 1. Union by marriage, affinity ; union through marriage or common parentage ; relationship, kinship, consanguinity. (13th cent.) 2. Combination for a common object ; union offensive and defensive ; especially between sovereign states. (14th cent.) 4. collect. People united by kinship or friendship ; kindred, friends, allies. (14th cent.) 5. individual. A kinsman, relation or ally. (16th cent.) (See : Oxford English Dictionary 'alliance').
I have to draw attention that the words 'alliance' and 'alliance' have multiple meanings and if we examine each one of the contemporary sources in French and English literature, included by the expert contributors in each language and country, the interpretations suggest uniquely either a collective meaning or an individual meaning.
For instance, previous to the 16th century, an 'alliance' (meaning, 'a union', 'combination', 'people'), has a collective meaning in the English language. In the "new" 16th century meaning, the contemporary meaning, an 'alliance' (meaning, 'kinsman, relation or ally'), has an individual meaning. At the same time, the French word 'alliance' includes a broader meaning in the 16th century : arguably, a juridic lien contracted in a mutual engagement between one partner of a mutual agreement, and, by extension, the families of one and the other. This is slightly troubling for non-linguists.
However, if we may now return briefly to the painting, I have to draw attention that the king is depicted "pinching" the ring between forefinger and thumb, emphasized and indeed overemphasized by the 16th century artist. I have further to draw attention to a contemporary linguistic equivalent to what is pictorially depicted, which makes sense, relevant to known history : 'A case, occasion, or time, of special stress or need ; a critical juncture, a strait, exigency or extremity. Now, usually, in phraseology, at (on) a pinch'. Similarly, 'To pinch' can mean surprising or arresting someone. (See : Oxford English Dictionary 'pinch'). It has the same meaning, to arrest and hold someone in detention, in familiar French. (See : Le Petit Robert 'pincer'')
The inquiry may conceivably decide that the artist is directing our attention to the arrest of one partner in a mutual agreement who is 'parenté'. For the present, the possible link is and remains either, Lady Eleanor Butler, or Elizabeth Woodville. However, if we carefully separate all the strands of the evidence produced so far, on the one hand the artist may be referring to the claim entered in the Rolls of Parliament published in the printed version of 1783, of an impediment to Edward V and that upon the death of his father, Edward IV, the surviving partner of the alleged "illegal" mutual agreement and bigamous union was Elizabeth Woodville.
At the same time, I have to draw attention that it is most unlikely this alleged alliance of a union unblessed by the pope is a reference to Elizabeth Woodville since the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville to Edward IV, dated 1 May 1464, is referred to in the Venetian Calendar (Vol. 1, No. 395) where it is said the English peers summoned to Reading held consultation among themselves whether the marriage could not be annulled (unsuccessfully) ; and since we know that Edward’s queen was subsequently crowned at Westminster one year later, on Whit Sunday, 26 May 1465, (DNB, p. 492), it is most unlikely that a papal bull did not arrive from the Vatican, before or after the coronation, ratifying the marriage.
Furthermore, I have to draw attention that Woodville was not arrested during the reign of Richard III. In this connexion, it is indeed reported that the Dowager Queen sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey for herself and her children, reported by More, but this was the queen's decision and soon reversed. Furthermore, it was not the first time Elizabeth Woodville had sought sanctuary in Westminster. When her husband was driven abroad in 1470, during the Wars of the Roses, she went with her children into the sanctuary at Westminster where she gave birth to Edward V.
To return for just one minute more to the picture : the artist appears to say it was Richard III who arrested (or, "pinched") the partner of a union unblessed by the Pope.
The inquiry may conceivably decide that since the Woodville marriage was indeed ratified by the Vatican, the remaining option is that Richard III arrested and held in detention the one remaining partner of an alleged earlier mutual agreement and union, Lady Eleanor Butler, whose marriage had NOT been ratified by the Vatican.
The inquiry may conceivably decide the painting reveals a positive hint, in an allegorical mode, of the continued existence of Lady Eleanor Butler in 1483. We will test this in our evidence-in-chief.
In conclusion, the inquiry may conceivably agree that if the Minories excavations are positive and we find the body of a woman aged about 60-67 years at death, whose DNA profile matches the male and female offspring of John Talbot, first Earl of Shrewsbury, by his second wife, Margaret Beauchamp, that we have found the Lady of the precontract. It further means the Tudor DDT were indeed responsible for doctoring Richard's Act of Settlement in such a way that no-one would suspect Lady Eleanor Butler was still alive. It means that the plan of deception held in place before the real death of Lady Eleanor Butler – and that Richard and his Neville family, Elizabeth Woodville and her family, and later Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk and her family, decided not to destabilize the position post mortem.
It means the "stand-offs" worked to the advantage of all concerned during the reigns of three kings, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII. Firstly, Elizabeth, Duchess of Norfolk, saved the life of her sister, Lady Eleanor Butler. Later, Elizabeth Woodville saved the lives of Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, and her close family.
In the case of Thomas Cosyn, we shall say that if Cosyn was the son of Lady Eleanor Butler by Edward IV, the technology exists to prove this today – by DNA profiling.
Richard may indeed have arrested Lady Eleanor Butler, as suggested in the NPG portrait, and, since he did not produce his conjectural star witness, it means he left himself open to the charge that he had usurped the throne, giving his enemies the means and opportunity to destroy his previous good name and character. We can see and feel this in the literature when his enemies describe the executions of Woodville blood and affinity, Rivers, Grey, Buckingham, and friend Hastings, as monstrous. Richard III tragically underestimated his enemies and overestimated his friends.
It is slightly worrying that the last king of England to die on a battlefield, Richard III, whose arms carried the inscription 'Loyalty binds me', is accused of having betrayed his brother. This is one point at issue. The contra-argument, that he had sought to protect his brother's reputation by proving a case of sordid entrapment by Woodville and her mother, is merely one more point at issue.
The affair between Lady Eleanor Butler and Edward IV, both unmarried and free agents, was of concern to no-one else but themselves.
Some may say that if Edward lied subsequently about his affair with Lady Eleanor Butler, it was to save his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.
However, the personal sexual morality of a rightful head of state was attacked by hypocritical and far from idealistic enemies seeking to bring down the house of York and put themselves in its place, as though dis-engagement in a broken pre-contract of marriage was anathema and something unknown, which is most unlikely. Richard became caught in the crossfire in 1483, and when his only child died in 1484, and his wife died of cancer in 1485, he was probably out of his mind on the last day of his life, some five months later at Bosworth, when much of his army turned and fled without engaging the enemy, and he charged alone into the massed ranks of the Tudor knights crying 'Treason', 'Treason', it is said, and was inevitably cut down.
The ensuing political and religious problems turned this period of history into perhaps the most complex of all to read and understand, remaining to be resolved by us to-day. It is time. We have taken the first step, the technology exists and the political will may follow -- 'Yea' or 'Nay'.
The Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford; Fowler’s History of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; Emden’s A Bibliographical Register of the University of Oxford, 3 Vols. to AD 1572; Cockayne’s Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland; Sylvester’s “Richard III”, The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Yale, Vol. No. 2; The Rolls of Parliament, publ. HMSO; Letter & Papers, Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII, publ. HMSO; Oxford English Dictionary; Other sources are quoted in the text, Errors & Omissions, excepted.
NOTES & REFERENCES
I have to draw attention that my work on the anomalies in the Holbein oeuvre, generally, has been known for exactly twenty-five years, 1976-2001. My discovery of the cryptic “messages” in the NPG portrait of Richard III, in particular, was published in three editions of the Journal of the Richard III Society, in 1978, 1979 and 1981*, and discussed in the Ricardian Bulletin and further discussed, by invitation, at an illustrated talk given to London Branch in the Art Workers Guild. The central theme of the academic seminars in the UK, Europe and USA, in each one to which I have been invited to discuss the “new” history and in each case, is the artist’s cryptic allegation of alleged ‘extreme behaviour’ – perhaps, Edward’s alleged alliance with the lady of the pre-contract, Lady Eleanor Butler, and his subsequent bigamous marriage to the Lady Elizabeth Woodville. The detective work based on the decrypts, which is on going, compared and discussed with entries in monumental books of reference and other named sources in the text, comprise approximately 800 pages published to-date at my Web site – http://www.holbeinartworks.org
Thanks are due to Sir John Masterman, former vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Historian; Professor Gerald Aylmer, then Head of Department of History at York, later Master of St. Peter’s College, Oxford; and, Professor Dr. G. van den Steenhoven, former professor of law at Nijmegen (1976-1985). The discussions are described and made clear in an unpublished book of the detective work, entitled REBUS: How Holbein Hid a Royal Secret. Special thanks are due to Peter Hammond and Carolyn Hammond, Research Officer and Librarian of the Richard III Society, who allowed me to make extensive use of a rare copy of Titulus Regius, a remarkable document discussed in this section, “Richard III”. A further list of acknowledgments of the assistance given by individuals and their institutions will be published at the Web site upon completion of the investigation.
ADDENDA & CORRIGENDA
For the first time, we have a “testable” theory of the continued existence of Lady Eleanor Butler. The traditional history of the Howard and Talbot families may be anecdotal. However, traditional history may be tested scientifically today, in an ongoing method of inquiry, using the latest methods and technology. It is my custom and practice to publish findings and make corrections in the time-honoured manner. (See: http://www.holbeinartworks.org Hans Holbein, Sir Thomas More & The Princes in the TowerèNotes & ReferencesèAcknowledgementsèAddenda & Corrigenda.)
FOR COMPARATIVE STUDIES
*LESLAU J. “Did the Sons of Edward IV Outlive Henry VII” The Ricardian, Vol. IV, No. 62, September 1978, pp. 2-14; LESLAU J. “Did the Sons of Edward IV Outlive Henry VII: A postscript”, The Ricardian, Vol. V, No. 64, March 1979, pp. 24-26; LESLAU J. “Did the Sons of Edward IV outlive Henry VII: An answer and a rejoinder”, The Ricardian, Vol. V, No. 65, June 1979, pp. 55-60; LESLAU J. “Further to the Holbein Rebuses…Another Discreet Rebus”, pp.11-19, Ricardian Bulletin, June 1981. (See : list of articles at www.holbeinartworks.org Hans Holbein, Sir Thomas More & The Princes in the TowerèBookstall è CDROMholbeinartworks090900)
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