Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

This is also a post for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

It is sometimes difficult to come back to real life from a good book that you have read. Recently, I have been in 15th century England and a little bit in France, and I am quite surprised when I look up and see my garden outside the window and it is 2014! Isn't it wonderful when books can capture you so. It started with the search for grave of Richard III, and the historical bits of his life as well as the exciting search for his grave 500 years later.  Then I went to pre-time Richard with Anne O'Brien's The Forbidden Queen, ending with her children and heirs that took over after Richard.

Now I have just returned from The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory. I think a lot of you are familiar with her books about the women during the turbulent times of the War of the Roses. This time she tells the story of Anne Neville, who was the youngest daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also called 'The Kingmaker', having helped several of the York family to come to the throne. He was one of the most powerful and richest men in England. However, when Edward IV secretly married Elizabeth Woodwill, a commoner and from an unimportant family, and her influence over the king became very strong, he was not in favour anymore. Being a very ambitious man, and wanting to see one of his own daughters as the Queen of England, he went into a liaison with Margaret of Anjou, queen to Henry VI, exiled in France, together with her son Edward. Her husband and ex-king Henry VI was at this time 'living' in the Tower, since he had inherited a bout of madness from his mother's side (Catherine of Valois, see 'The Forbidden Queen'). Anne was married to her son, Edward. Together with the Earl of Warwick they went to England to try to take over the throne from Edward IV. With them were also George, Earl of Clarence, brother to king Edward IV and married to Anne's sister Isabel.

Anne Neville
Richard II
It was doomed to fail and so it did. Edward died in the battle and so did Anne's father. She was now a widow, and only15 years old. Her mother went into sanctuary in a monastery, so her only relation was her sister Isabel. The book tells the story how Anne, from being a young, naive girl, under the influence of her powerful and ambitious father and mother, fought to take control of her own life. It is a fascinating story of these two daughters, the richest in England and bound to have been part of a royal marriage scheme had the times been 'normal'. When her father and husband died, Anne went to live with her sister and then married the youngest brother of York, Richard, Earl of Gloucester and future Richard III.

Elizabeth Woodwill, the queen to Edward IV, has a big part of the story. She had a strong influence on her husband and managed to arrange riches and titles for all her brothers and sisters. The king did nothing without her consent. Her mother was accused of being a witch and the Neville sisters lived all their lives under the idea that she was trying to kill them and their family with wicked spells.

Elizabeth Woodville
Edward IV
The great thing with reading on an iPad mini is that you have persons and places underlined here and there. Clicking on it you come directly to Wikipedia and you can check the fiction with the history. The interesting thing about Elizabeth Woodwill (who seemed to be so hated by everybody except her own family, mainly because of her influence over the king) is that her children included the Princes in the Tower and Elizabeth of York who married Henry VII. So she was the maternal grandmother of Henry VIII and the great-grandmother of King Edward VI, Queen Mary I of England and Queen Elizabeth I, and the great-great-grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Through her daughter, Elizabeth of York, she is the ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VIII and every Scottish monarch since James Vi of Scotland. A little twist of fate!

Philippa Gregory has written many more books so there is more to enjoy.

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