Monday, September 22, 2014

Throw The Rock, Hide Your Hand

This blog is composed of some random thoughts I've been kicking around in my head for a while, as well as in rational discussion groups on Facebook.  One of the things that drive me nuts the most is the hysteria exhibited by the different factions.  If you dare to ask why Richard did something, some Ricardians  will claim you "hate" Richard, are a Tudorite, don't know what you're talking about, are ignorant, and so on.  Richard is a saint. Can do no wrong. He was the innocent victim of the Woodvilles/Tudors/Margaret Beaufort/Insert Your Favorite Plantagenet Boogie Man Here.

As bad as this is, the Woodville faction can be worse.  According to them, More & Shakespeare wrote the Gospel Truth & anyone who asks why Richard did a 180 once his brother was 6' under is labeled a "Bride of Gloucester," doesn't know what they're talking about, is ignorant, & that it is *obvious* to anyone with a brain that the Woodvilles/Tudors/Beauforts were all innocent victims doing nothing but sitting around playing Sudoku while patiently waiting their turn on evil Richard's chopping block.

So why don't we just set all of that garbage aside, take everyone at their word, & see what picture starts to appear? 

Let's accept the fact that Richard was incredibly loyal to his brother, Edward IV.  He had to be. Edward had Richard doing all his heavy lifting in the midlands, among the northern lords, & missions in Scotland.  He was also Lord Admiral.  If there was the slightest suspicion that Richard would ever turn on Edward IV, WHY did he give him so much authority? After Edward, Richard as Duke of Gloucester was the most powerful man in the kingdom.  Even Richard's detractors speak of his loyalty to his brother. He was obviously doing something right as Duke of Gloucester. 

Let's also accept the fact that he was on good terms with the Woodvilles.  They may not have been BFFs, but they also weren't at each other's throats.  Up on deck is Rivers. They had a history, these two, of fighting together for Edward & going into exile with him. There is no hint that there was any disagreements between the two. They may not have known each other well as the years went by, but that doesn't explain what happened at Stony Stratford.  Richard might not have been happy about George's execution, but let's face it: George had it coming.  It was George who had all those problems with the Woodvilles.  Richard, seemingly, did not.  He even enlisted Elizabeth's help in arranging a good marriage for a woman named Katherine, suspected of being one of his mistresses & the mother of one or two of his illegitimate children. He also wrote Elizabeth before he left for London, promising her safety & his loyalty to Edward V. Yeah, that's what happens when you hate your in-laws. You work with them, ask them to do favors for you, & promise in writing to be loyal to their kids. 

Rivers requests an escort for the new king, Edward V, & agrees to limit it to 2000 men.  Richard moves south with 300.  Neither one seems to be hell bent for leather to get to London. So far, so good.  No one is acting out of character.  It is expected that Richard, as Lord Protector, would be escorting Edward V into London. It is expected that Edward V will be headed to London with sufficient protection.  Then something happens.

Rivers fails to meet up with Richard at the expected rendezvous & doubles-back to meet him.  They have a grand old time that evening & the next day, Rivers & others are put under arrest & sent off to Pontefract.  They later lose their heads. Everything goes to hell in a handbag after that.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? People who before were on good relations all of a sudden lopping each other's heads off, throwing others in prison, running for sanctuary, or stealing the Treasury & sailing off with the Navy.

If ever you've noticed office politics in action, there is always at least one person you can count on to be a pot-stirrer. (I'm being polite.)  There is a Mexican dicho which loosely translated says "They throw the rock, then hide their hands."  To me, this is what happened to Richard & the Woodvilles after Edward IV died.  At least one, possibly two or three, outside 3rd parties decided they would put a wedge between the Lord Protector & the King & his immediate family.  Why? Because, presuming Richard would be as loyal to Edward V as he was to Edward IV, there would be no way in hell anyone would be able to topple Edward V. 

Who were these 3rd parties?  In my speculation, they could be Hastings, Catesby (who was Hastings' lawyer), & the Duke of Buckingham.  On the sidelines, working the Woodvilles over was Margaret Beaufort, who saw an opportunity & took it.  And who knows who else was there, looking to improve their own situation at the expense of someone else?  Just look at who had the most to gain by a falling-out between the Duke of Gloucester & the Woodvilles, & you'll have your answer.

There's more to this, but I'll leave this here for now. I'm sure I've got something wrong, but that's okay. I can just go back & re-evaluate the events of 1483.  I do think, however, that it will all boil down to some person or persons seeking to create or capitalize on discord for their own purposes.


  1. I have always thought that whenever Buckingham shows up on the scene, something 'significant' happens to Richard, and usually not in a good way....

  2. Great post! It has always appeared to me that R3 had tried to make the most of situations, including being fair-minded with the in-laws. He appears to have had the people's best interests at heart. Buckingham, Stanley, and Beaufort. Those names reek of dastardly deed.

  3. Great post ... and actually applies common sense!