Sunday, August 11, 2013

The White Princess

The White Princess is a 2013 fictional novel written by Philippa Gregory on Princess Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII.

Elizabeth is devastated by the loss of her beloved, her uncle, Richard III of England, at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Years earlier, her mother, Elizabeth Woodville, had made a pact with Margaret Beaufort to marry Elizabeth off to Margaret's Beaufort's son, Henry Tudor. Now that Henry Tudor is king, he honors the pledge he made in 1483 and agrees to marry Elizabeth, although he makes it quite clear that he is the conqueror of England and will not rule jointly with the princess who had a much better claim to the throne than he. Still he must make sure she is fertile and so he rapes her until she is with child. Their first child is born 8 months after their wedding on January 18, 1486. The royal historians had said that Henry was descended from King Arthur identifying Winchester as Camelot. As such, the first Tudor Prince was born there and he named Arthur.

In 1486, only a year after gaining the throne, Henry faced open rebellion by York supporters in the Stafford and Lovell rebellion. Under the leadership Francis Lovell and the Stafford brothers, the rebellion was a failure and ended in the death of the latter two.

Due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth's two brothers, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, their was civil unrest against the Tudor reign by pretenders claiming to be the York heirs. While Henry had spared  Edward "Teddy, 17th Earl of Warwick, son of George, Duke of Clarence, the boy was kept as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Teddy's sister, Margaret "Maggie", was given in marriage to Henry's cousin, Sir Richard Pole, son of his mother's half brother. In 1487, Yorkist, under the command of the Earl of Lincoln, rose up in rebellion against the King in support of Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be Teddy. Despite Henry's attempt at damage control by showing that he had the real Earl of Warwick, Simnel gained traction with Teddy's Aunt, Margaret of Burgundy. Simnel was defeated at the Battle of Stoke where Lincoln was killed. Henry VII pardoned the poor boy and gave him a job in the royal kitchen.

For her participation in the Simnel rebellion, Henry had his mother-in-law placed in Bermondsey Abbey. She died 5 years after entering on June 8, 1492. Elizabeth would name her second daughter and overall third child after her but the child died at the age of 3, 6 months before her younger sister, Mary, was born. Elizabeth already had another daughter named Margaret after the child's grandmother. Henry and Elizabeth would also have two other sons, Henry (1491) and Edmund (1499). As their marriage progressed, the two reached an understanding and slowly became attached to one another.

In 1490, a young flemish man named Perkin Warbeck, appeared and claim the be Richard, Duke of York. Like Simnel before him, he gained the favor of Margaret of Burgundy. Eventually he was able to gain the support of James IV of Scotland, who gave him Katherine of Huntley in marriage. Warbeck landed in Cornwall in 1497 with 6000 men. He promptly fled upon hearing news that Henry's arm was in hot pursuit. Henry had Warbeck arrested and placed in the Tower of London with Teddy. Both tried to escape in 1499 but were subsequently found and brought back. Both were subsequently executed.

I give this book a 1/5. As you all know, I have a youtube channel and I consider myself a romantic of sorts and my videos reflect that. I had been thinking of making a video on Elizabeth of York but after reading this book, that is the last thing I want to do. I had always envisioned Elizabeth of York as this beautiful and sweet York princess but in this book, she just comes off as whiney, mopey and completely unlikable. I was on the fence about the Elizabeth-Richard romance but in this book they went so far as to say that they actually had relations. I was completely turned off the book by the rape of Elizabeth by Henry and perhaps infuriated later when they started to bond together in some bizarre form of Stockholm Syndrome. From all the previous readings I have read, Elizabeth and Henry had a very loving relationship and this book just spits in that relationship's face. Henry comes off as a complete monster.that rivals Shakespeare's Richard III. The book itself is incredibly boring, all this commotion happening with none of the tension that comes with fearing the loss of a crown. I understand that these events did actually happen so I am more inclined to blame Gregory's odd writing. I know she can do tension building decently as we've seen in the White Queen but this book was just awful.

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