"Rich Rostrom" <***@rcn.com> wrote in message
> "Gordon Davie" <***@btinternet.com> wrote:
> > Edward IV of England was illegitimate
> >(counting back from his date of birth, he must have been conceived in the
> >middle of a five-week period when his supposed father Richard, Duke of
> >was fighting in France).
Richard, Duke of York never seems to have worried about it. He and Cicely
Neville went happily on to produce three more sons and a daughter. By all
accounts they were a close couple. Richard and Cicely's brother Richard,
Earl of Salisbury were also closely allied. (They both died at the Battle of
Wakefield in 1460). Unless Richard of York was a character prepared in 1442
to put his political manoeverings before his wife's betrayal, which seems
unlikely, then he was either a fool (which he definitely was not) or had no
reason to suspect Cicely. I believe the latter. In any case Edward, Earl of
March (the future Edward IV) was most definitely a chip off the Yorkist
> What's news about this? Doesn't Shakespeare depict Richard of
> Gloucester raising this very point as he moves to usurp the
> crown from his nephew?
Richard's original argument was that the marriage of Edward IV was not
properly solemnized, and that therefore his children were illegitimate. As
Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville in secret, this was a difficult
charge to prove or disprove beyond dispute. The argument that Edward himself
had been illegitimate was probably over-egging the pudding, if it really was
In any case the absolute legitimacy of any monarch of England (in terms of
both conception in wedlock, or of the means by which the throne was gained)
is very dubious from 1399 onwards, when Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of
Lancaster, deposed Richard II to become Henry IV himself.
Bolingbroke's descent was from the invalid marriage of John of Gaunt to
Catherine Roelt, which was not legitimized until much later, with the
stipulation that the children already born could not inherit the throne.
Gaunt was Duke of Lancaster and second son of Edward III. Richard, Duke of
York could claim descent from Lionel, Duke of Clarence and Edmund Langley,
second and fourth sons respectively of Edward III. In theory, Lionel's line
of descent (through his daughter, Phillipa, Countess of Ulster, who married
Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March) should have overridden any claim of
Bolingbroke's; so from 1399, when Parliament acquiesced in Bolingbroke's
usurpation, they abandoned the strict letter of the law in favour of
convenience and force of individual character.
Henry VII, who became King in 1485 on the death of Richard III in battle,
claimed descent (via Margaret Beaufort) from Henry IV and therefore in
theory the Lancaster claim once again overrode the York / Mortimer claim.
And once again, the country accepted a new monarch on the grounds that
anything was better than no monarch at all. This didn't stop the heirs of
the York claim, i.e. the Poles (descendants of Edward IV's sister
Elizabeth), having another go at gaining the throne, but in essence, all
British monarchs after 1485, claim their descent from Henry VII, not his
wife Elizabeth [yes, there are all too many Elizabeths, Edwards and Richards
in this post], daughter of Edward IV.
There have been a few Edward IV "What-ifs" in this NG. Mostly on the lines
of, "WI Edward IV lives long enough for his son to inherit when of full age
?" My opinion is that Edward V needed to be not only old enough, but also a
pretty strong character. Unless Edward IV had already done so, then sooner
or later Edward V would have to order the death of one or other of his
uncles (Richard of York, or Earl Rivers), and probably some of his cousins
too. But I digress slightly.
On a like topic, what if the claims of George, Duke of Clarence's [i.e. the
brother of Edward IV. Referring to notable people by titles which could
descend generations or be transferred by Royal gift or act of Parliament is
one of the things which makes mediaeval history hard to follow sometimes]
children had been allowed ? Well, ignoring the probability that not many
people will trust Clarence, it should be remembered that his son Edward (who
inherited the original Neville title of Earl of Warwick) was probably a
simpleton. Some of this may have been due to him being locked up in the
almost since birth, nobody seems to have regarded him as a monarch, except
as a figurehead for some more forceful character.
His daughter, Margaret (who also inherited a Neville title, of Countess of
Salisbury) married Richard Pole and had three sons and a daughter. Henry
VIII worried enough about their activities to execute one of the male
children and condemn another to death but not actually top him. However,
these children were yet to be conceived in 1483. Nobody could seriously have
considered Margaret as a reigning Queen at the time.
As with other occasions of regal uncertainty which other posters have
mentioned (succession of James I; the Glorious Revolution; the accession
of the Elector of Hanover etc), the monarchy of Britain has been given to
candidate acknowledged at the time to be the most suitable, or the least