Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Belated Birthday to Richard III, Loyal Brother to Edward IV

Born on October 2, 1452.

Speaking of birthdays, the act enrolled in the 1484 Parliament outlining Richard III's claim to the crown, Titulus Regius, having set out the supposed illegitmacy of Edward IV's sons, goes on to list Richard III's qualifications to hold the throne. Interestingly, it contains a couple of subtle allusions to earlier rumors, spread by the Earl of Warwick and his associates previously and briefly resurrected by Richard III (or his supporters) when he seized the throne in 1483, that Edward IV himself was illegitimate. Richard is described as the "undoubted" son of Richard, Duke of York, and (unlike that sneaky Edward IV, born in Rouen), it's noted that Richard was "born within this land."

Over this we cofidre, howe that Ye be the undoubted Son and Heire of Richard late Duke of Yorke, verray enheritour to the feid Crowne and Dignite Roiall, and as in right Kyng of Englond, by wey of Enheritaunce; and that at ths tyme, the premiffes duely confidered, there is noon other perfoune lyvyng but Ye only, that by Right may clayme the faid Coroune and Dignite Royall, by way of Enheritaunce, and howe that Ye be born withyn this Lande; by reafon wherof, as we deme in oure myndes, Ye be more naturally enclyned to the profperite and comen wele of the fame; and all the thre Eftatis of the Lande have, and may have, more certayn knowlage of youre Byrth and Filiation abovefeid. Wee confidre alfo, the greate Wytte, Prudence, Juftice, Princely Courage, and the memorable and laudable Acts in diverfe Batalls, whiche as we by experience knowe Ye heretofore have done, for the falvacion and defence of this fame Reame; and alfo the greate nobleffe and excellence of your Byrth and Blode, as of hym that is defcended of the thre mooft Royall houfes in Criftendom, that is to fay, England, Fraunce, and Hifpanic.

Strangely, Richard III is widely admired for his loyalty to his brother, though after Edward IV's death, Richard III proclaimed his brother's children illegitimate, summarily executed his closest friend, his in-laws, and his eldest son's chamberlain, and (at the very least) imprisoned his sons. Titulus Regius, indeed, devotes considerable space to outlining Edward IV's supposed failures as a king, which, you won't be surprised to hear, were all caused by divine displeasure with his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville:

Which premiffes being true, as in veray trouth they been true, it appearreth and foloweth evidently, that the faid King Edward duryng his lif, and the feid Elizabeth, lived together finfully and dampnably in adultery, againft the Lawe of God and of his Church; and therfore noo marivaile that the Souverain Lord and the head of this Land, being of fuch ungoldy difpoficion, and provokyng the ire and indinacion of oure Lord God, fuch haynous mifchieffs and inconvenients, as is above remembred, were ufed and comitted in the Reame amongs the Subjects.

The "haynous mifchieffs and inconvenients, as is above remembred" are spelled out thusly:

Furft, we confidre how that heretofore in tyme paffed, this Lande many years ftode in great profperite, honoure and tranquillite; which was caufed, forfomoch as the Kings than reignyng, ufed and followed the advice and counfaill of certaine Lords Spuelx and Temporelx, and othre perfonnes of approved fadneffe, prudence, policie and experience, dreding God, and havying tendre zele and affection to indifferent miniftration of Juftice, and to the comon and politique wele of the Land; than oure Lord God was dred, luffed and honoured; than within the Land was peas and tranquillite, and among Neghbours concorde and charite; than the malice of outward Enemyes was myghtily refifted and repreffed, and the Land honorably defended with many grete and glorious victories; than the entrecourfe of Merchandizes was largely ufed and exercifed: by which things above remembred, the Land was greatly enriched, foo that as wele the Merchants and Artificers, as other poure people, laborying for their livyng in diverfe occupations, had competent gayne, to the fuftentation of thaym and their houfeholds, livyng without miferable and intollerable povertie. But afterward, whan that fuch as had the rule and governaunce of this Land, delityng in adulation and flattery, and lede by fenfuality and concupifcence, folowed the counfaill of perfonnes, infolent, vicious, and of inordinate avarice, defpifyng the coungaill of good, vertuoufe and prudent perfonnes, fuch as above be remembred; the profperite of this Land daily decreafed, foo that felicite was turned into miferie, and profperite into adverfite, and the ordre of polecye, and of the Lawe of God and Man, confounded; whereby it is likely this Reame to falle into extreme miferie and defolation, which God defende, without due provifion of couvenable remedie bee had in this behalfe in all goodly haft.

Ah, the good old days of Henry VI, where peas and tranquility reigned throughout the land, except for those pesky battles that kept spoiling everyone's fun. Richard III is also conveniently omitting to mention that the last years of Edward IV's reign, far from being a time of misery and desolation, were marked by domestic peace. But Richard is just getting warmed up:

Over this, amonges other things, more fpecially wee confider, howe that, the tyme of the Reigne of Kyng Edward the IIIIth , late deceffed, after the ungracious pretenfed Marriage, as all England hath caufe foo to fay, made betwixt the faid King Edward, and Elizabeth, fometyme Wife to Sir John Grey Knight, late nameing herfelf and many years heretofore Quene of Englond, the ordre of all poletique Rule was perverted, the Lawes of God and of Gods Church, and alfo the Lawes of Nature and of Englond, and alfo the laudable Cuftomes and Liberties of the fame, wherein every Englifhman in Inheritor, broken, fubverted and contempned, againft all reafon and juftice, foo that this Land was ruled by felfewill and pleafure, feare and drede, all manner of Equite and Lawes layd apart and defpifed, whereof enfued many inconvenients and mifchiefs, as Murdres, Extorfions and Oppreffions, namely of poore and impotent people, foo that no Man was fure of his Lif, Land ne Lyvelode, ne of his Wif, Doughter ne Servaunt, every good Maiden and Woman ftanding in drede to be ravifhed and defouled. And befides this, what Difcords, inwarde Battailles, etfufion of Chriftian Mens Blode, and namely, by the deftruction of the Blode of this Londe, was had and comitted within the fame, it is evident and notarie thourough all this Reame, unto the great forowe and hevyneffe of all true Englifhmen.

That's Edward IV for you: mass murderer of poor people, serial rapist of good women, and (having been born in France) not even a true Englishman.

As the saying goes, if you want loyalty, get yourself a dog.


Alianore said...

Happy Belated Birthday to Richard III....err...not.

I've never seen the text of Titulus Regius before. Richard said all those things about his brother?? And people praise him for his loyalty?? Good grief.

Dorothy said...

adding to my further comment, Edward was also responsible for the breaking of the canonical law of sanctuary after the battle of Tewkesbury when he had all the men who sought sanctuary dragged out of the Abbey and executed. These deaths were also laid at Richard III's door, wrongly!
I insist still that I have great fondness for Edward IV, the Soldier King. But you must at all times remember that he did these things! He was responsible for births, torture and deaths! Impetuous, big living, big loving, brutal when needed, he set a good example for the great Henry VIII in truth, did he not?

Dorothy said...

did my long comment on this section not meet with approval, Susan?

Susan Higginbotham said...

I think they're all there now! My computer was acting moody when trying to approve the last one.

Dorothy said...

no, my long comment is not there, so here goes again. Re: loyalty to Edward - OK? Richard was intensely loyal to his brother as both brother and as king, but ... he disapproved completely and fought against Clarence's execution. When it was carried out, he left court and hardly ever returned there again. His loyalty must have been sorely dented at that time.
Edward also introduced torture into England, working with the Earl of Worcester, The Butcher of England, who impaled people, he was in all probability reponsible for ordering the death of Henry VI, and you expect Richard to show total loyalty to this man??? He had a pre-contract of marriage in place, bedded all and sundry as it suited him, lived a life of total debauchery for the last years of his life.
I say this having a tremendous fondness for Edward IV in many ways, as a fine Soldier King and all that he did to put the Yorkist faction on top. But he was guilty of more crimes than Richard ever was and left more problems than Richard ever would. Don't let the Titulus REgis blind you to the facts - and these are facts, combined with my additional comment, you may see him - and Richard - in a different light. But remember always, always, always, first that the history books are riddled with errors, I cannot begin to tell you how many I have found when researching Earl Rivers, and second that it was a different time when morality was entirely different from the way we see things now. People are the same, they do not change no matter what age they live in, but their morals are dictated by the time in which they live. By that I mean they lived, loved, laughed, cried, felt joy, sorrow, grief, etc. etc. etc. as we do but the way they dealt with life's problems was very different. Don't ever make the mistake of judging them by today's standards. That would not fit these medieval aristocrats at all.