View Full Version : Lancaster and York: A Marriage of Convenience???
October 17th, 2010, 06:51 AM
Reading up recently on the Wars of the Roses, something piqued my interest.
Margaret Beaufort was married to Edmund Tudor in 1455. She was Twelve, going on thirteen and he was 26. This marriage produced only one son, the future Henry VII. It was also a marriage of convenience between for the Lancastrian family as a whole, uniting the two bastardized family lines in unity.
Edward, Earl of March, son of Richard Duke of York was thirteen at the time, having been born in 1442, practically a whole year before Margaret. He would become Edward IV in 1461.
Considering the political disunity between the entire English nobility, and the enmity between the Dukes of Somerset (AKA: Margaret Beaufort's family) and the Dukes of York (Edward's family) could a marriage between Margaret and Edward become plausible? Would it at all stop the Wars of the Roses...or would it continue regardless?
October 17th, 2010, 07:34 AM
I'd say that depends wether Edward IV goes the Henry VII way or not.
OTL, when Henry VII, the Lancastrian heir, married Elizabeth of York, a yorkist, it was to reunite the two warring branches and to put an end to the war of the Roses. He put his efforts into taking both Lancastrian and Yorkist supporters in his council, though he did get rid of some Yorkists.
Here, the situation would be reverse : Edward IV, a yorkist, marrying Margaret Beaufort, a Lancastrian. However, if Edward IV really wants to put an end to the Roses' War, he will have to try a policy similar to what Henry VII did, meaning including proheminent Yorkits but also Lancastrian supporters in his council.
Problem lies with that, but the most important one I believe will be probablity. If the two families are really at each others' throats, it will be nearly impossible for it to happen. All of it will depend on how bad the Dukes of York and Sommerset's relationship are and if they are willing to make an agreement. This is sadly something I can't answer on since I do not know the answer myself.
There is also a problem of the date you mentionned : while it's true Edward IV was crowned in 1461, Henry VI was still alive at tha point and so did his son Edward. Henry VI would still appear as the legitimate King of England for the Lancastrians at that point.
The marriage would have its bests chances after 1470-1471 and the death of both Henry VI and his son. Before those years, it seems to soon for me.
Richard III is also a wild card in this scenario. OTL, he was ambitious enough to usurp the crown from his nephews while they were children. Why couldn't he try the same thing here?
October 18th, 2010, 02:18 AM
Yorel's response is really sufficient, but I just want to emphasize the way Margaret Beaufort would not have been that important a figure in 1455. At that point, the state of play is still that one has a somewhat "touched" Henry VI facing off against a very powerful Duke of York. Moreover, Henry has a two year old Prince of Wales. So really, at that point a match between Margaret Beaufort and anyone else cannot really be seen as settling any outstanding dynastic rivalries for the succession. And really, at that point, the exclusion of the Beauforts is just that.
Keep in mind after Bosworth, when Henry VII proclaims himself king, he crucially proclaims himself so partly by right of combat. This gets around the fact that on the Tudor side his descent is from not Henry V, but Henry V's French wife by her second husband. It also gets around the exclusion of Margaret Beaufort and her heirs from the succession. And moreover, though Henry VII once in power is careful to never base his legitimacy on his own wife, really it's his prior declaration in Rennes that he would marry Elizabeth of York that lent his cause real credibility. So, keep in mind the Tudor claim to the throne was assembled from all those pieces, and that without a victorious army to say otherwise the exclusion of the Beauforts from the succession would have probably continued. It wouldn't even have become important for the Lancastrian cause without the deaths of Henry VI and his male heir.
Also, the personalities on the York side just can't be underestimated. And it's not just Richard. Richard, was, remember, for most of his career considered the faithful brother.
Finally, I can't believe you would do anything to exclude the delightful Elizabeth Woodville--the obvious inspiration for George R.R. Martin's Circe Lannister--from the annals of English history. Perhaps if you go forward with this idea, you could marry her to good ol' Edmund? :)
October 20th, 2010, 10:56 AM
As the previous post points out the year of Margaret's marriage to Earl of Richmond was problematic - the King has recovered and York is no longer protector, Somerset (Margaret's uncle is back in favour with the Queen) and Margaret's wealth is a useful way of Henry VI endowing his relatively poor half brother without alienating crown properties.
The idea that Margaret at this period would be regarded as having much of a claim doesn't really fly because of her remoteness from the throne and her sex - although by our standards of male preference primogeniture she was in 1455 second in line in the Lancastrian line to the throne - Henry VI - Edward Prince of Wales - Margaret Beaufort it is not as clear cut as all that.
The Lancastrian line at this period is in part defending its rights by claiming, rightly, to be the senior male line descendants of Edward III - the line is technically - Henry VI, Edward Prince of Wales, The Duke of Someret (Margaret Beaufort's uncle)
The Beaufort claim is controversial - due to their illegitimacy (they were born to Katherine Swynford before she married John of Gaunt - although they were later legitimised it is debateable whether that legally placed them into the succession)
Richard Duke of York was the senior heir general of Edward III - initially he wanted nothing more than his rightful and due place in Government as the senior peer - he was also owed a fortune by the crown for his service in France and Ireland - his dynastic claim only emerged as the unpopularity of Henry VI's Queen and her favourite (especially the Duke of Somerset) grew among certain factions.
October 20th, 2010, 11:02 AM
IIRC girls COULD marry and conmsumate young but I don't think boys could (legally not physically) so the question would be whether they wanted to keep Margaret back as an asset (so to speak) that was not in play. Remember at the time nobody knew she would be an immensely healthy tough woman who'd lived to a ripe old age, so in these times she could have died any time (a lot did) so if someone wants to marry her and its advantageous it makes more sense to go with it, than to get an engagement and wait another few years, by which time she could be dead and no gain made by the marriage
October 20th, 2010, 10:23 PM
from memory - consummation was often used where one party was keen to ensure that the marriage would stick and be irreversible especially when it involved a wealthy young heiress who could be whisked away at a moments notice at the whim of either church, family or monarch.
In Margaret's case that had already happened before the marriage to Richmond - at her fathers death Henry VI reneged on his promise to grant her wardship and marriage to her mother and instead gave it to the Duke of Suffolk who promptly married her to his son and heir, when Henry VI changed his made the marriage was annulled due to Margaret's age (she never acknowledged the marriage referring to Richmond as her first husband). For a woman consent was assumed after 12 but not before.
Given that track record and the politics of the mid 1450's I am not surprised that Richmond wanted to make sure of his 'prize'
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