Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dynastic Diplomacy

On 21 August 1454, Richard III and Queen Cicely joined Queen Margaret and the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke in Westminster for a mass in honor of Richard’s predecessor, Henry VI.  After the solemn occasion, Margaret officially ended her sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and was given rooms at Windsor Castle by Richard.  A few days afterwards, the 23-year old Pembroke petitioned Richard for permission to marry Lady Anne Wydeville, the 15-year old daughter of Baron Rivers, Richard Wydeville.  Although the marriage would not take place for a few years, Pembroke had heard of Richard’s concern with Margaret’s future considering the examples of Pembroke’s own mother Catherine Valois, the Queen of Henry V, and Anne’s mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg, formerly Duchess of Bedford and now Baroness Rivers, and did not want to surprise the King with news of this marriage agreement.  Richard knew that Pembroke had been having contact with the Wydeville family as Baron Rivers’ eldest daughter Elizabeth Grey had been one of Margaret’s ladies-in-waiting and had been one of the former Queen’s on-and-off companions in sanctuary and now along with her husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, was serving Margaret at Windsor Castle.  All involved had taken no sides during the previous winter and Richard permitted the marriage.  But with Margaret out of sanctuary, Richard decided it was time to prevent another scandalous marriage before he would have to deal with the consequences.

Early in September, Essex and the committee of the Commons and Lords presented their plan for the repayment of debts via the usage of forfeited lands.  Richard endorsed the plan and Parliament in both the Commons and Lords, passed it without a hint of disagreement.  Richard then brought his council together and inquired about what to do about Margaret.  Buckingham suggested that since Henry IV of Castile was looking to marry that they should attempt to present Margaret as a suitable candidate.  Salisbury, while supporting the idea, cautioned that since Margaret was niece to Charles VII of France that it might require that he be consulted.  Richard was loath to work with the man who had just conquered all the English possessions in France save Calais, but accepted that it was a price to pay at the moment.  The King delegated Devon and Warwick, who had taken up his position in Calais, to go to Paris and meet with Charles about presenting Margaret as a candidate for the hand of Henry.  If successful, Devon was to proceed to Castile and present Margaret as a candidate for marriage.  Within the week, Devon had left for Calais.  Soon after he left, Richard finally received a letter from Pope Nicholas V; the Pope apologized for the delay in his response as his concern for Christendom after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks had preoccupied him tremendously.  Nicholas thanked Richard for the concern to Cardinal Kempe’s bodily remains and eternal soul even though Kempe erred inserting himself in a political situation against Richard.  The Pope affirmed Thomas Bourchier as Archbishop of Canterbury and named him Cardinal as befitting his position.  Richard welcomed the news and sent his congratulations to Cardinal Bourchier as well as letter to the Pope thanking him for his response and also his concern about the fall of Constantinople.

Near the end of the month, news from Portugal arrived that negotiations for the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Afonso V’s sister, the Infanta Joan, had been successfully concluded.  Once the preparations for Joan’s journey were finalized she and the delegation would depart Lisbon, but not before Worchester would as instructed be proxy for the Price of Wales in a ceremony before the Portuguese court.  Parliament and the country as a whole welcomed the news of the royal marriage; however the 12-year old Prince of Wales was apprehensive when Richard told him the news though the King knew it was just because of his son’s age.  Richard told the Prince of Wales that it would be several years until he and Joan would be truly married, until then he should treat the Infanta like an honorable Prince should.  Queen Cicely began preparations to have the Infanta join her household beside her younger daughters as well as selecting acceptable ladies-in-waiting and a tutor to help the future Queen of England learn the language of her new country.  A few days later, Warwick sent a message that stated Charles VII sent his warm regards to Richard and supported Richard’s care for his niece by presenting her to Henry IV as a candidate for marriage.  Warwick also wrote that Devon had returned with him to Calais along with a French diplomat before heading to Castile on account that Charles felt the Dauphin might attempt to prevent them from their mission.  Richard replied that Warwick was to join Devon and the French delegation to the Castilian court in Valladolid as well as explaining that he had promised Margaret a large dowry and provided the amount.  For the King, everything seemed to be progressing well as he started to wade into the realm of international diplomacy.  However, Richard needed to find a way to tell Margaret that he was presenting her as a candidate for marriage.