Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Richard III Society

A few months ago I joined the Richard III Society, and recently received publications covering the last three years. The Winter 2006 issue of The Ricardian Register has an interesting article "Sheep, Cattle and Sword: Some Thoughts about Richard, Duke of York 1411-1460". I haven't had the time to go through the entire piece, but Richard is a very important person in the life of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. It criticises Margaret's adherence to one party as a destructive alliance enhancing civil war.

I will write more about this article soon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Constance of York

My knowledge of Henry IV's reign (Henry VI's grandfather) is spotty at best - I've never read the plays, or indeed anything in depth. Having just finished Within the Fetterlock by Brian Wainwright, I can't say that anymore. Even though it is historical fiction, and not historical fact, it gives a sense of the far-reaching problem of H4's reign - that it rules upon the deposition and murder of the anointed King Richard II. The novel also stresses the financial problems of the reign, a factor that dogged the Lancastrian house to the end.

The story is built around that of Constance of York, a newcomer to my consciousness. She was pulled in a few directions, both personally and politically. That she was cousin to both Richard and Henry made it hard for her initially, though, as the story goes, she aligned herself against Henry. And paid for it.

The novel was exceptionally well written. In fact, after a slowish start, I was totally pulled in. Unlike many readers, I was not hampered in my enjoyment by knowing what happens next. I look forward to reading more of this author.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What I Intend

Here he is, my inspiration, my example of mediocrity, madness, and suffering in the wrong job.

I have long wished to delve into his story, as a medieval misfit, a constrained civil servant, and a henpecked husband.

The desire to tell his story is central to this my little life. I am in recovery, and look to historical figures in turmoil, and find him to be important, with a history most poignant. There are so many elements, a forceful queen, a horribly timed bout of madness, the signal oddity of being deposed twice...

Shakespeare's Henry is wistful and self-pitying, totally ineffectual. With a power vacuum, upon his marriage to Margaret of Anjou he seemed only too content to hand over the fact of power.

My interest in Henry began 20 years ago. As events in my life often became hard to handle, I thought of him and his predicament. What king sits under a tree during a key battle? One with a painful ambivalence and willingness to let others rule his destiny. There was a time in my life that I let things go, handed my being over to others, sat under that tree.