scottynola @ : Cheaper Than Free
Good morning, Constant Reader! And a happy Good Friday to you. I have a three day weekend, during the course of which I hope to get so much done that it would frighten a lesser mortal. I am determined to make progress not only on Murder in the Arts District
but on my secret projects as well, get the Lost Apartment cleaned (I am doing the windows this weekend--LONG overdue), and assorted other organization/cleaning projects that are way past their expiration dates. I've already been to the gym to work out with Wacky Russian, and I am having lunch with my friend Laura today as well.
We finished Season Three of Game of Thrones
, and I may be the only person on the planet watching the show (well, Paul, too--he felt the same) whose reaction to the infamous "Rains of Castamere" episode was good, about time
. SPOILER ALERT: the young Stark children were the most interesting members of that family (team Arya!), and let's face it, not everyone is going to win the war--and my money is on the Mother of Dragons, who is by far my favorite.
We also started watching The White Queen
, which seemed oddly appropriate after watching Game of Thrones
; as it started Paul asked, 'what is this about?' and I replied, "The Wars of the Roses aka the real Game of Thrones
." (Although George R. R. Martin does not
claim the Wars of the Roses as his real life inspiration; but more on that later, or at a later time.)
As Constant Reader knows, I loves me some history. I was vaguely aware, through my interest in history as a child, of the Wars of the Roses; but I learned a LOT about them when I found a copy of Thomas B. Costain's The Last Plantagenets
at a flea market I went to one weekend with my grandmother and her second husband. I highly recommend his entire Pageant of England
series for anyone with an interest in history written in an easy to follow and understand, interesting way. This is a four volume history of the Plantagenet ruling family of England; The Conquering Family, The Magnificent Century, The Three Edwards,
and of course, The Last Plantagenets
The fourth volume is about the Wars of the Roses and the final end of the Plantagenet dynasty, supplanted by the Tudors in 1485. But the great thing about Costain--and this book--is that he knew, and explained, how the seeds of the Wars of the Roses were actually planted almost a century earlier, with the ascent of Richard II to the throne at the age of ten when his grandfather, Edward III, died. It was Richard, you see, who was supplanted in 1399 by Henry of Lancaster, who was proclaimed king by Parliament as Henry IV even though he was not the true heir to the English throne.
Costain spins the tale of Richard II's failed kingship, through the reign of his usurper, the usurper's son's short reign as Henry V (victor of Agincourt and conqueror of France), and of course, his death at a very young age leaving behind a son not even a year old who then became king.
I read somewhere once about how the fifteen century was plagued by Plantagenet fertility and the sixteenth by Tudor sterility, which is really a good way of putting it. Edward III and his Flemish queen Philippa had an enormous brood of children; it was their descendants and the squabbling over who had more of a right to the throne that led to the Wars of the Roses, when those descendants spent nearly thirty years exterminating each other. When the dust finally settled in 1485 after the Battle of Bosworth Field, the House of Lancaster's heir Henry Tudor married a daughter of the opposing House of York and the wars ended.
(Henry VII and his son Henry VIII finished exterminating the Plantagenet line during their reigns.)The White Queen
is based on several novels by Philippa Gregory, who has done a magnificent job of branding herself as the queen and leading author of fictionalized accounts of actual history (although Hilary Mantel is certainly giving her a run for her money on the bestseller lists, as well as winning major literary awards right and left); this series is based on her books The White Queen, The Red Queen,
, and The Kingmaker's Daughter
To be honest, I've never read Philippa Gregory, despite my exceptional interest in history, and the periods she writes about (I've also yet to read Mantel, but I have her books on my shelves). As I said earlier, I read the Costain histories of the Plantagenets, and I also read Jean Plaidy's books on the same period (well, I read most of Plaidy's English history novels; she pretty much covered every king and queen from the Conqueror through Victoria, with side trips into French and Spanish history periodically).
I don't necessarily agree with some of the depictions of the historical characters (in the four episodes I've seen so far Anne Neville is depicted as scheming and ambitious and her older sister Isabelle is shown as sweet and innocent and a mere victim of circumstance; it's entirely possible this may have been the case but everything I've read, whether fiction or actual history or biography, have indicated the reverse was the case), but I am really enjoying the show, and my interest in the period has actually been revived (or rather brought to the forefront of my mind, at any rate), and now I'd like to dig out my copies of Costain and reread them...
Because of course I have nothing else to do!
But I am looking forward to watching more of The White Queen
tonight--and an interesting aside about Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV and point of view character for the series--she was the first truly English queen since 1066. The Plantagent kings were themselves French and most often married French wives; they followed the Normans (who were also French), and it was her marriage that brought the name Elizabeth
into English royalty; her daughter Elizabeth was also Queen of England; her great granddaughter was Elizabeth I.
So, every English princess of the blood royal from 1465 to the present day is actually named for Elizabeth Woodville, the commoner, daughter of a French noblewoman and an English squire.
I love that kind of shit.
Tags: books i read growing up Current Mood:
Current Music: Let It Go by Idina Menzel
, english history
, game of thrones
, philippa gregory
, the white queen
, thomas b. costain
, wars of the roses