Margaret of Anjou, Queen Consort

MARGARET of Anjou (1430–1482), queen consort of Henry VI, was born on 23 March 1430 (Lecoy de la Marche, Le Roi René, i. 434). The place of her birth is not quite clear. It was probably Pont-à-Mousson or Nancy (Lallement, Marguerite d’Anjou-Lorraine, pp. 26-7). She was the fourth surviving child of René of Anjou and his wife Isabella, daughter and heiress of Charles II, duke of Lorraine. René himself was the second son of Louis II, duke of Anjou and king of Naples, and of his wife Yolande of Aragon. He was thus the great-grandson of John the Good, king of France. His sister Mary was the wife of Charles VII, king of France, and René himself was a close friend of his brother-in-law and as strong a partisan as his weakness allowed of the royal as opposed to the Burgundian party. At the time of Margaret’s birth René possessed nothing but the little county of Guise, but within three months he succeeded to his grand-uncle’s inheritance of the duchy of Bar and the marquisate of Pont-à-Mousson. A little later, 25 Jan. 1431, the death of Margaret’s maternal grandfather, Charles II of Lorraine, gave him also the throne of that duchy, but on 2 July René was defeated and taken prisoner at Bulgnéville by the rival claimant, Antony of Vaudemont, who transferred his prisoner to the custody of Duke Philip of Burgundy at Dijon. He was not released, except for a time on parole, until February 1437. But during his imprisonment René succeeded, in 1434, by the death of his elder brother Louis, to the duchy of Anjou and to the county of Provence. In February 1435 Queen Joanna II of Naples died, leaving him as her heir to contest that throne with Alfonso of Aragon. With the at best doubtful prospects of the monarchy of Naples went the purely titular sovereignties of Hungary and Jerusalem. René had also inherited equally fantastic claims to Majorca and Minorca.

Her father’s rapid succession to estates, dignities, and claims gave some political importance even to the infancy of Margaret. The long captivity of René left Margaret entirely under the care of her able and high-spirited mother, Isabella of Lorraine, who now strove to govern as best she could the duchies of Lorraine and Bar. But after 1435 Isabella went to Naples, where she exerted herself, with no small measure of success, to procure her husband’s recognition as king. Margaret was thereupon transferred from Nancy, the ordinary home of her infancy, to Anjou, now governed in René’s name by her grandmother, Yolande of Aragon, under whose charge Margaret apparently remained until Queen Yolande’s death, on 14 Nov. 1442, at Saumur (ib. i. 231). During these years Margaret mainly resided at Saumur and Angers. In 1437 René, on his release, spent some time in Anjou, but he speedily hurried off to Italy to consolidate the throne acquired for him by the heroism of his consort. But the same year that saw the death of Yolande witnessed the final discomfiture of the Angevin cause in Italy, and René and Isabella, abandoning the struggle, returned to Provence. For the rest of his life René was merely a titular king of Naples. On receiving the news of his mother’s death, René hurried to Anjou, where he arrived in June 1443. For the next few years he remained for the most part resident at Anjou, generally living at Angers Castle with his wife and daughters. Anjou therefore continued Margaret’s home until she attained the age of fourteen (cf. Lecoy, Comptes et Mémoriaux du Roi René, p. 226).

The constant fluctuations of René’s fortunes are well indicated by the long series of marriages proposed for Margaret, beginning almost from her cradle. In February 1433 René, then released for a time on parole, agreed at Bohain that Margaret should marry a son of the Count of Saint-Pol; but the agreement came to nothing, and René was subsequently formally released from it. In 1435 Philip of Burgundy, René’s captor, urged that Margaret should be wedded to his young son, the Count of Charolais, then a boy a year old, but afterwards famous as Charles the Bold. She was to bring Bar and Pont-à-Mousson as a marriage portion to her husband, and so secure the direct connection between the Low Countries and Burgundy, which was so important an object of Burgundian policy. But René preferred to remain in prison rather than give up his inheritance. The story that a secret article in the treaty which released René in 1437 stipulated that Margaret should marry Henry VI of England is, on the face of it, absurd, though accepted by the Count of Quatrebarbes, the editor of René’s works (Œuvres du Roi René, i. xlii.), and many other modern writers (cf. Lecoy, i. 127). But the Burgundian plan for an Angevin alliance was still pressed forward. In the summer of 1442 Philip negotiated with Isabella for the marriage of Margaret with his kinsman Charles, count of Nevers. On 4 Feb. 1443 a marriage treaty was actually signed at Tarascon, but Charles VII opposed the match, and it was abandoned (G. Du Fresne de Beaucourt, Histoire de Charles VII, iii. 260; see for all the above negotiations Lecoy, Le Roi René, i. 104, 117, 127, 129, 231, and the authorities quoted by him).

More tempting prospects for Margaret were now offered from another quarter. Since 1439 the peace party, headed by Cardinal Beaufort, had gained a decided ascendency at the English court, and had sought to marry the young Henry VI to a French princess as the best way of procuring the triumph of their policy. But their first efforts were unsuccessful, and excited the suspicions of the French, as involving a renewal of the alliance between the English and the old feudal party in France. However, the Duke of Orleans, who had been released from his English prison to promote such a plan, now changed his policy. After the failure of the Armagnac marriage, and the refusal of Charles VII to give one of his daughters to Henry, Orleans seems to have suggested a marriage between Henry and Margaret of Anjou. The idea was warmly taken up by Henry himself and by the Beaufort party, though violently opposed by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester [q. v.], and the advocates of a spirited foreign policy. In February 1444 William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk [q. v.], was sent to treat for a truce with ‘our uncle of France.’ He had further instructions to negotiate the Angevin marriage. Charles VII now held his court at Tours, whither King René came from Angers, and gave his consent to the sacrifice of his daughter in the interests of the French nation and throne. Suffolk was welcomed on his arrival at Tours by René, and the negotiations both for the marriage and truce proceeded quickly and smoothly. Early in May Margaret, who had remained behind at Angers, was brought by Queen Isabella to meet the English ambassadors. She was lodged with her father and mother at the abbey of Beaumont-lès-Tours. On 22 May it was decided to conclude a truce and the marriage of Margaret. On 24 May the solemn betrothal of Margaret and Henry was celebrated in the church of St. Martin. The papal legate, Peter de Monte, bishop of Brescia, officiated, and Suffolk stood proxy for the absent bridegroom. The king of France took a prominent part in the ceremony, which was carried out with great pomp and stateliness. It terminated with a great feast at St. Julian’s Abbey, where Margaret was treated with the respect due to a queen of England, and received the same honours as her aunt the French queen. Strange shows were exhibited, including giants with trees in their hands, and men-at-arms, mounted on camels, and charging each other with lances. A great ball terminated the festivities, and Margaret returned to Angers (Lecoy, i. 231–3, ii. 254–7; Vallet de Viriville, Charles VII, ii. 450–4; Stevenson, Wars of English in France, ii. xxxvi– xxxviii). On 28 May the truce of Tours was signed, to last for nearly two years, between England and France and their respective allies, among whom King René was included (Cosneau, Les Grands Traités de la Guerre de Cent Ans, pp. 152–71).

Various difficulties put off the actual celebration of Margaret’s marriage. Her father went to war against the city of Metz, and was aided by Charles VII. Financial difficulties delayed until December the despatch of the magnificent embassy which, with Suffolk, now a marquis, at its head, was destined to fetch Margaret to England. Suffolk, on reaching Lorraine, found René, with his guest King Charles, intent upon the reduction of Metz. The further delay that ensued suggested both to contemporaries and to later writers that fresh difficulties had arisen. It was believed in England that Charles and René sought to impose fresh conditions on Suffolk, and that the English ambassador, apprehensive of the failure of the marriage treaty, was at last forced into accepting the French proposal that Le Mans and the other towns held by the English in Maine should be surrendered to Charles, the titular count of Maine, and René’s younger brother. The story is found in Gascoigne’s ‘Theological Dictionary’ (Loci e libro Veritatum, pp. 190, 204, 219, ed. J. E. T. Rogers) and in the ‘Chronicle’ of Berry king-at-arms (Godefroy, Charles VII, p. 430), and has been generally in some form accepted by English writers, including Bishop Stubbs, Mr. J. Gairdner, and Sir James Ramsay (Hist. of England, 1399–1485, ii. 62), who adduces some rather inconclusive evidence in support of it. The story seems mere gossip, and was perhaps based upon an article of Suffolk’s impeachment. There is not a scrap of evidence that Suffolk made even a verbal promise, and none that anything treacherous was contemplated (De Beaucourt, Hist. de Charles VII, iv. 167–8). Margaret, however, was carefully kept in the background, and may even, as has been suggested, have been hidden away in Touraine (Ramsay, ii. 62) while Suffolk was conducting the final negotiations at Nancy. She only reached Nancy early in February (Beaucourt, iv. 91; cf. Calmet, Hist. de Lorraine, Preuves, vol. iii. col. ccc. pp. ii–iii). At the end of the same month Metz made its submission to the two kings, and the French and Angevin courts returned to Nancy to a series of gorgeous festivities. Early in March the proxy marriage was performed at Nancy by the bishop of Toul, Louis de Heraucourt. Eight days of jousts, feasts, balls, and revelry celebrated the auspicious occasion. The marriage treaty was not finally engrossed until after Easter, when the court had quitted Nancy for Châlons. By it Margaret took as her only marriage portion to her husband the shadowy rights which René had inherited from his mother to the kingdom of Majorca and Minorca, and she renounced all her claims to the rest of her father’s heritage. Margaret’s real present to her husband was peace and alliance with France.

Margaret, escorted by Suffolk and a very numerous and brilliant following, was accompanied by her uncle, Charles VII, for the first two leagues out of Nancy, and she took leave of him in tears (Berry Roy d’Armes, p. 426). René himself accompanied Margaret as far as Bar-le-Duc, and her brother John, duke of Calabria, as far as Paris, which she reached on 15 March. On the 16th she was received with royal state at Notre-Dame in Paris. On 17 March the Duke of Orleans, the real author of the match, escorted her to the English frontier, which she entered at Poissy (Maupoint, ‘Journal Parisien,’ Mémoires de la Société de l’Histoire de Paris, iv. 32). There Richard, duke of York, governor of Normandy, received her under his care. She was conveyed by water down the Seine from Mantes to Rouen, where on 22 March a state entry into the Norman capital was celebrated. But Margaret did not appear in the procession, and the Countess of Salisbury, dressed in the queen’s robes, acted her part (Mathieu D’Escouchy, i. 89). She was perhaps ill, a fact which probably accounts for a delay of nearly a fortnight before she was able to cross the Channel. She sailed from Harfleur in the cog John of Cherbourg, arriving on 9 April at Portsmouth, ‘sick of the labour and indisposition of the sea, by the occasion of which the pokkes been broken out upon her’ (Proceedings of Privy Council, VI. xvi). The disease can hardly, however, have been small-pox, as on 14 April she was well enough to join the king at Southampton (Wars of English in France, i. 449). On 23 April Bishop Ayscough of Salisbury repeated the marriage service at Tichfield Abbey. On 28 May Margaret solemnly entered London (Gregory, Chronicle, p. 186), passing under a device representing Peace and Plenty set up on London Bridge, and welcomed even by Humphrey of Gloucester, the most violent opponent of the French marriage. On 30 May she was crowned in Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Stafford. Three days of tournaments brought the long festivities to a close (Wyrcester, p. 764). Parliament soon conferred on Margaret a jointure of 2,000l. a year in land and 4,666l. 13s. 4d. a year in money (Rot. Parl. v. 118–20). Margaret was just fifteen when she arrived in England. She was a good-look well-grown (‘specie et forma præstans,’ Basin, L 156), and precocious girl, inheriting fully the virile qualities of her mother and grandmother, and also, as events soon showed, both the ability and savagery which belonged to nearly all the members of the younger house of Anjou. She was well brought up, and inherited something of her father’s literary tastes. She was a ‘devout pilgrim to the shrine of Boccaccio’ (Chastellain, vii. 100. ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove), delighting in her youth in romances of chivalry, and seeking consolation in her exile and misfortunes from the sympathetic pen of Chastellain. Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, presented her with a gorgeously illuminating volume of French romances, that ‘after she had learnt English she might not forget ber mother-tongue’ (Shaw, Dresses, &c, of the Middle Ages, ii. 49). The manuscript is now in the British Museum (Royal MS. 15 E. vi.) She was also a keen lover of the chase, constantly ordering that the game in her forests should be strictly preserved for her own use, and instructing a cunning master of hounds ‘to make two bloodhounds for our use’ (Letters of Margaret of Angou, 90, 100, 106, 141, Camden Soc.) The popular traditions which oasign to her a leading part in the events of the first few years succeeding her marriage are neither likely in themselves nor verified by contemporary authority. She came to England without political experience. But »he soon learned who were her friends, and identified herself with the Beaufort-Suffolk party, recognising in Suffolk the true negotiator of the match, and being attached both to him and to his wife, Ohoucer’s grand-daughter, by strong personal ties. Unluckily for her and for the nation, she never got bevond the partisan’s view of her position (see Comines, Mémoires, ii. 280-1, ed. Dupont). A stranger to the customs and interests of her adopted country, she never learned to play the port of a mediator, or to raise the crown above the fierce faction light that constantly raged round Henry’s court. In identifying her husband completely with the one faction, she almost forced the rival party into opposition to the king and to the dynasty, which lived only to ratify the will of a rival faction. Nor were Margaret’s strong, if natural French sympathies, less injurious to herself and to her husband’s cause.

To procure the prolongation of the truce with France was the first object of the English government after her arrival in England. Her first well-marked political acts were devoted to this same object. A great French embassy sent to England in July 1445 agreed to a short renewal of the trure.and to a personal meeting between Henry and Charles; but immediately afterwards a second French embassy, to which René also gave letters of procuration, urged the surrender of the English possessions in Maine to Henry’s brother Charles. ‘In this matter,’ Margaret wrote to René, ‘we will do your pleasure as much as lies in our power, as we have always done already’ (Stevenson, i. 164). Her entreaties proved successful. On 22 Dec. Hery pledged himself in writing to the surrender of Le Mans (ib. ii. 039-42). But the weakness and hesitating policy of the English government prevented the French from getting possession of Le Mans before 1448.

Margaret was present at the Bury St. Edmunds parliament of 1447, when Duke Humphrey came to a tragic end, but nothing is more gratuitous than the charge sometimes brought against her of having any share in his death; though doubtless she rejoiced in getting rid of an enemy, and she showed some greediness in appropriating part of his estates on behalf of her jointure on the very day succeeding his decease (Ramsay, ii. 77; Fœdera, xi. 155; Rot. Parl. v. 133). Suffolk’s fall in 1449 was a great blow to her. She fully shared the unpopularity of the unsuccessful minister. The wildest libels were circulated about her. It was rumoured abroad that she was a bastard and no true daughter of the king of Sicily (Mathieu D’Escouchy, i. 303-4). The literature of the next century suggests that Margaret had improper relation a with Suffolk; but this is absurd. Suffolk was an elderly man, and bis wife was very friendly with Margaret during bis life and after his death. Margaret now transferred to Somerset the confidence which she bad formerly felt for Suffolk. But the loss of Normandy, quickly followed by that of Guienne, soon involved Somerset in as deep an odium as that Suffolk had incurred. It also Strongly affected Margaret’s position. She came as his representative of the policy of peace with France, but that policy and been so badly carried out that England was tricked out of her hard-won dominions beyond sea.

The leaders of the contending factions were now Richard, duke of York, who had popular favour on his side, and Edmund, duke of Somerset, who was popularly discredited. Margaret’s constant advocacy of Somerset’s faction drove York to violent courses almost in his own despite. When in 1460 Somerset was thrown into prison, he was released by Margaret’s agency, and again made chief of the council. When York procured his second imprisonment, Margaret visited him in the Tower, and assured him of her continued favour (Waurin, Chroniques, 1447–71, pp. 264–5).

Margaret was now beginning to take an active part, not only in general policy, but in the details of administration. She became an active administrator of her own estates, a good friend to her servants and dependents, but a hearty foe to those whom she disliked. Her private correspondence shows her eager for favours, greedy and importunate in her requests, unscrupulous in pushing her friends’ interests, and an unblushing ‘maintainer,’ constantly interfering with the course of private justice. She was an indefatigable match-maker, and seldom ceased meddling with the private affairs of the gentry (Letters of Margaret of Anjou, Camden Soc.; Ramsay, ii. 128, 141; Paston Letters, i. 134, 254, 305, ed. Gairdner). Poor and greedy, she early obtained an unlimited power of evading the customs duties and the staple regulations by a license to export wool and tin whithersoever she pleased (Ramsay, ii. 90).

A more pleasing sign of Margaret’s activity at this time was her foundation of Queens’ College, Cambridge. The real founder of this house was Andrew Doket [q. v.], rector of St. Botolph’s, Cambridge, who had obtained in 1446 a charter for the establishment of a small college, called St. Bernard’s College, of which he himself was to be president. But he afterwards enlarged his site and his plans, and in 1447 persuaded the queen, who was probably anxious to imitate her husband’s greater foundation of King’s College, to interest herself in the work. She petitioned her husband to grant a new charter, and, as no college in Cambridge had been founded by any queen, she begged that it might be called Queen’s College, of St. Mary and St. Bernard. The prayer was granted, and in 1448 a new charter of foundation was issued. The whole of the endowment, however, seems to have been contributed by Doket. On 15 April 1448 her chamberlain, Sir J. Wenlock, laid the first stone of the chapel, which was opened for worship in 1464 (Searle, History of Queens’ College, Cambridge, Cambridge Antiquarian Soc. 8vo ser. No. ix.; Willis and Clark, Architectural History of Cambridge). After Margaret’s fall the college fell into great difficulties, but Doket finally persuaded Elizabeth Wydville, the queen of Edward IV, to refound the house. The course of events gave Margaret a new importance. In August 1453 Henry VI fell into a condition of complete prostration and insanity. On 13 Oct. Margaret gave birth to her only son, after more than eight years of barrenness. The king’s illness put an end to the old state of confusion, during which Margaret and Somerset had tried to rule through his name. A regency was now necessary. For this position Margaret herself was a claimant. In January 1454 it was known that ‘the queen hath made a bill of five articles, whereof the first is that she desireth to have the whole rule of this land’ (ib. i. 265). But public feeling was strongly against her.

Moreover, it is right a great abusion
A woman of a land to be a regent.
(Pol. Poems, ii. 268, Rolls Ser.)

On 27 March parliament appointed York protector of the realm, and the personal rivalry between York and Margaret was intensified. The birth of her son had deprived him of any hopes of a peaceful succession to the throne on Henry’s death, while it inspired her with a new and fiercer zeal on behalf of her family interests. Henceforth she stood forward as the great champion of her husband’s cause. The Yorkists did not hesitate to impute to her the foulest vices. At home and abroad it was believed that the young Prince Edward was no son of King Henry’s (Chron. Davies, pp. 79, 92; Basin, i. 299; Chastellain, v. 464).

The recovery of Henry VI in January 1455 put an end to York’s protectorate. Somerset was released from the Tower, and Margaret again made a great effort to crush her rival. York accordingly took arms. His victory at St. Albans was marked by the death of Somerset, and soon followed by a return of the king’s malady. York was now again protector, but early in 1456 Henry was again restored to health, and, anxious for peace and reconciliation, proposed to continue York as his chief councillor. But Margaret strongly opposed this weakness. ‘The queen,’ wrote one of the Paston correspondents, ‘is a great and strong laboured woman, for she spareth no pain to sue her things to an intent and conclusion to her power’ (Paston Letters, i. 378). She obtained her way in putting an end to the protectorship, but she did not succeed in driving York and his friends from the administration. Profoundly disgusted at her husband’s compliance, she withdrew from London, leaving Henry in York’s hands. She kept herself with her son at a distance from her husband, spending part of April and May, for example, at Tutbury (ib. i. 386–7). At the end of May she visited her son Edward’s earldom of Chester (ib. i. 392). She no doubt busied herself with preparations for a new attack on York. In August she was joined by Henry in the midlands, and both spent most of October at Coventry, where a great council was held, in which Margaret prepared the removal of the Bourchiers from His ministry, but failed to openly assail their patron, the duke. A hollow reconciliation was patched up, and York left. Coventry ‘in right good conceit with the king, but not in great conceit with the queen’ (ib. i. 408). Next year be was sent out of the v&y as lieutenant of Ireland. Margaret remained mainly in the midlands, fearing, plainly, to approach the Yorkist city of London. To combine the Scots with the Lancactrians she urged the marriage of the young duke of Somerset and his brother to two daughters of the King of Scots (Mathieu D’Escouchy, ii. 352-4).

In 1458 there vas a great reconciliation of parties. On 25 SInrcli the Duke of York led the queen to a service of thanksgiving a at St. Paul’s. But Margaret at once renewed her intrigues. After seeking in vain to drive Warwick from the governorship of Calais, she again withdrew from the capital. She sought to stir up the turbulent and daring Cheshire men to espouse her cause with the same fierce zeal with which their grand-fathers had fought for Richard II (Chron. Davies, p 79). In the summer of 1459 both parties were again in arms. Henry’s march to Ludlow was followed by the dispersal of the Yorkists. In November the Coventry parliament gratified the queen’s vindictiveness by the wholesale proscription of the Yorkist leaders. By ordering that the revenues of Cornwall should be paid henceforth directly to the prince, it practically increased the funds which were at Margaret’s fettered disposal (Ramsay, ii. 219; Rot. Parl. v. 356-62). Now, if not earlier, Margaret made a close alliance with her old friend Bresé. The seneschal of Normandy, the communications being carried on through a confidential agent named Doucereau. ‘If those with her,’ wrote Brezé to Charles II in January 146l, ‘knew of her intention, and what she has done, they would join themselves with the other party and put her to death’ (Letter of Brezé quoted in Basin, iv. 358-60, ed. Quicherat; cf. Beaucourt, vi. 288). There could be no more damning proof of her treasonable connection with the foreigner.

In 1460 the pendulum swung round. The Yorkist invasion of Kent was followed by the battle of Northampton, the captivity of the king, the Duke of York’s claim to the crown, and the compromise devised by the lords that Henry should reign for life, while York was recognised as his successor. York, now proclaimed protector. ruled in Henry’s name. The king’s weak abandonment of his son’s rights seemed in a way to justify the scurrilous Yorkist ballads that Edward was a ‘false heir,’ born of ‘false wedlock’ (Chron. Davies, pp. 91-; cf. Chastellain, v. 464 ; Basin, i. 299).

Margaret had not shared her husband’s captivity. In June Henry had taken an affectionate farewell of her at Coventry, and bad sent her with the prince to Eccleshall in Stratfordshire, while be marched forth to defeat and captivity at Northampton. On the news of the fatal battle, Margaret fled with Edward from Eccleshall into Cheshire. But her hopes of raising an army there were signally disappointed. Near Malpas she was almost captured by John Cleger, a servant of Lord Stanley’s, her own followers robbed her of her goods and jewels (Wyrcester, p. 773). At last a boy of fourteen, John Combe of Amesbury (Gregory, p. 209), took Margaret and Edward away from danger, all three riding away on the same horse while the thieves were quarrelling over their booty. After a long journey over the moors and mountains of Wales, the queen and the prince at last found a safe refuge within the walls of Harlech Castle. There isno sufficient evidence to warrant Sir James Ramsay (ii. 236) in placing here the well-known incident of the robber. The only authority for the story, Chastellain, distinctly assigns it to a later date.

The king’s half-brothers upheld his cause in ‘Wales. On the capture of Denbigh by Jasper Tudor, Margaret made her way thither, where she was joined by the Duke of Exeter and other leaders of her party. She was of no mind to accept the surrender of her son’s rights, and strove to continue the war. The Lancastrian lords took up arms in the north. Mnr^rel and Edward took ship from Wales to Scotland. She was 8o poor that she was dependent for her expenses on the Scottish government. James II was just slain, but the regent, Mary of Gelderlond, treated her kindly and entertained her in January 1461 for ten or twelve days at Lincluden Abbey. She offered to marry Edward, now seven years old, to Mary, sister of James III, m return for Scottish help. But Mary of Gelderland also insisted on the surrender of Berwick. Margaret, with her usual contemptuous and ignorant disregard of English feeling, did not hesitate to make the sacrifice. On 5 Jan. a formal treaty was signed (Basin, iv. 357-358). She also resumed her old comp dealings with the faithful Brezé (ib. iv. 357-360). She thus obtained a Scots contingent, or the prospect of one ; but her relations with the national enemies made her prospects in England almost hopeless. Meanwhile the battle of Wakefield had been won, and York slain on the field. As Margaret was in Scotland, the stories of her inhuman treatment of York’s remains, told by later writers, are obvious fictions. So much was she identified with her party that even well-informed foreiaTi writers like Waurin believe her to have been present in the field (Chroniques, 1447-71, p. 325). It was not until some time after the battle that the news of the victory encouraged Margaret to join her victorious partisans. On 20 Jan. 1461 she was at York, where her first care was to pledge the Lancastrian lords to use their influence upon Henry to persuade him to accept the dishonourable convention of Lincluden (Basin, iv. 357-8). The march to London was then begun. A motley crew of Scots, Welsh, and wild northerners followed the queen to the south. Every step of their progress was marked with plunder and devastation. It was believed that Margaret had promised to give up to her northern allies the whole of the south country us their spoil. An enthusiastic army of Londoners marched off under Warwick to withstand her progress. King Henry accompanied the army. On 17 Feb. the second battle of St. Albans was fought. Warwick’s blundering tactics gave the northerners an easy victory. The king was left behind in the confusion, and taken to Lord Clifford’s tent, where Margaret and Edward met him. Margaret brutally made the little prince president of the court which condemned to immediate execulion Bouville and Sir Thomas Kyriel. ‘Fair son,’ she said, ‘what death shall these two knights die ?’ and the prince replied that their heads should be cut off (Waurin, p. 330). But the wild host of the victors was so little under control that even Margaret, with all her recklessness, hesitated as to letting it loose on the wealth of the capital. She lost her best chance of ultimate success when, after tarrying eight days at St. Albans, she returned to Dunstable, whence she again marched her army to the north (Wyscester, p. 776). This false move allowed of the junction of Warwick with Edward, the new duke of York, fresh from his victory at Mortimer’s Cross. On 4 March 1461 the Duke of York assumed the English throne as Edward IV, thus ignoring the compromise which the Lancastrians themselves had broken, and basing his claim upon his legitimist royalist descent. Margaret was now forced to retreat back into Yorkshire, closely followed by the new king. She was with her husband at York during the decisive day of Towton, after which she retreated with Henry to Scotland, surrendering Berwick to avoid its falling into Yorkist hands. This ‘act of treason and the misconduct of her troops figure among the reasons of her attainder by the first parliament of Edward IV, which describes her as ‘Margaret, late called queen of England’ (Rot. Parl. v. 476, 479). In Scotland Margaret was entertained first at Linlithgow and afterwards at the Black Friars Convent at Edinhurgh. She found the Scots kingdom still distracted by factions. Mary of Gelderland, the regent, was not unfriendly, but she was a niece of the Duke of Burgundy, who was anxious to keep on good terms with Edward IV, and sent the lord of Gruthuse, a powerful Flemish baron, to persuade Mary to abandon the alliance. But Bishop Kennedy of St. Andrews was sent bock to Scotland by Charles VII to keep the party of the French interests in devotion to Lancaster, while Edward himself incited the highlanders against his enemies in the south. Margaret meanwhile concluded an indenture with the powerful Earl of Angus, who was to receive an English dukedom and a great estate in return for his assistance. ‘I heard,’ wrote one of the Paston correspondents. ‘that these appointments were taken by the young lords of Scotland, but not by the old’ (Paston Letters, ii. 111).

Margaret’s main reliance was still on France, whither she despatched Somerset to seek for assistance. But Charles VII was now dead, and his son, Louis XI, wan hardly yet in a position to give free rein to his desire to help his cousin (ib. ii. 45-8). Nothing, therefore, of moment occurred, and Margaret, impatient of delay, left her husband in Scotland, and, embarking at Kirkcudbright, arrived in Brittany on 16 April 1463. She had pawned her plate in Scotland, and was now forced to borrow from the Queen of Scots the money to pay for her journey. She was well received by the Duke of Brittany, and then passed on through Anjou and Touraine. Her father borrowed eight thousand florins to meet ‘the great and sumptuous expenses of her coming’ (Lecoy, i. 345 ; cf. Wycester, p. 780), and urged her claims on Louis. Margaret herself had interviews with Louis at Chinon, Tours, and Rouen. In June 1483 Margaret mode a formal treaty with him by which she received twenty thousand francs in return for a conditional mortgage of Calais (Lecoy, i. 343). There was a rumour in England that Margaret was at Boulogne ‘with much silver to pay the soldiers,’ and that the Calais garrison was wavering in its allegiance to Edward (Paxton Letters, ii. 118). Louis raised ‘ban and arrière ban.’ There was much talk of a siege of Calais, and Edward IV accused Margaret of a plot to make her uncle Charles of Maine ruler of England (Halliwell, Letters of Kings of England, i. 127). But tha French king contented himself with much Xeta decisive measures. He, however, consented to despatch a small force, variously estimated as between eight hundred and two thousand men, to assist Margaret in a new attack on England. He appointed as leader of these troops her old friend Brezé, now in disgrace at court.

Early in the autumn Margaret and Brezé left Normandy, and, escaping the Yorkist cruisera, reached Scotland in safety. They were there joined by King Henry, and late in October invaded Northumberland, where they captured Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, and Alnwick. But no English Lancastrians rose in favour of the king, who sought to regain his kingdom with the help of the hereditary enemy. A violent tempest detroyed their ships, the crews were captured by the Yorkists, and Margaret and Brezé escaped with difficulty in an open boat to the safe refuge of Berwick, now in Scottish hands. On their retreat Somerset made terms with the Yorkists and surrendered the captured castles.

In 1463 the three border castles were reconquered by the Lanctastrians, or rather by the Scots and French fighting in their name. Margaret again appeared in Northumberland, but she was reduced to the uttermost straits. For five days she, with her son and husband had to live on herrings and no bread, and one day at mass, not having a farthing for the offertory, she was forced to borrow a small sum from a Scottish archer (Chastellain, iv. 300). One day, when hiding in the woods with her son, she was accosted by a robber, hideous and horrible to see.’ But she threw herself on the outlaw’s generosity, and begged him to save the son of his king. The brigand respected her rank and misfortunes, and allowed her to escape to a place of safety. Such incidents proved the uselessness of further resistance, and Margaret sailed from Bamburgh with Brezé and about two hundred followers. Next year the last hopes of Lancaster were destroyed at Hedgeley Moor and Hexham. But there is no authority for the common belief that Margaret remained behind in Britain until after those battles. or that, as Bishop Stubbs represents, the returned to Scotland again before those battles were fought (see Mr. Plummer’s note on Fortescue, Governance of England, p. 63). In August 1463 Margaret and her woebegone following landed at Sluys. Margaret had only seven women attendants, who had not a change of raiment between them. All depended on Brezé for their daily bread. The queen at once journeyed to Bruges, where Charles, count of Charolais, mindful that his mother was a granddaughter of John of Gaunt, received the Lancastrian exiles with great hospltality and kindness (Wyrcester, p. 781). But his father, Duke Philip, was much embarrassed by her presence. He yielded at length to her urgency, and granted a personal interview. Margaret drove from Bruges to Saint-Pol in a common country cart, covered with a canvas tilt, ‘like a poor lady travelling incognita.’ As she passed Béthune she was exposed to some risk of capture by the English garrison at Calais. She reached Saint-Pol on 31 Aug., and was allowed to see the duke. Philip listened sympathetically to her tale of woe, but withdrew the next day, contenting himself with a present of two thousand crowns, his sister, the Duchess of Bourbon, remained behind, and heard from Margaret the highly coloured tale of her adventures, which, with further literary embellish raents, finally found its way into the ‘Chronicle’ of Chastellain Œuvres, iv. 278-314, 333). Margaret then returned to Bruges, where Charolais again treated her with elaborate and considerate courtesy. But there was no object in her remaining longer in Flauders, and Philip urged on her departure by offering an honourable escort to attend her to her father’s dominions. Thither Margaret now went, and took up her quarters at Saint-Michel-en-Barrois. Louis XI, so far from helping her, threw the whole of her support on her impoverished father, who gave her a pension of six thousand crowns a year. She lived obscurely at Saint-Michel for the next seven years, mainly occupied in bringing up her son, for whom Sir John Fortescue (1394?-1476?) [q. v.], who had accompanied her flight, wrote his well-known book ‘De Laudibus Legum Angliæ.’ ‘We be all in great poverty,’ wrote Fortescue, ‘but yet the queen sustaineth na in meat and drink. Her Highness may do no more to us than she doth’ (Plummer, p. 64). A constant but feeble agitation was kept up. Fortescue was several times sent to Paris, and great efforts were made to enlist the Lancastrian sympathies of the king of Portugal, the emperor Frederick III, and Charles of Charolais (ib. p. 65; Clermont, Family of Fortescue, pp. 69-79).

After 1467 Margaret’s hopes rose. Though her old friend Charolais, now Duke of Burgundy, went over to the Yorkists, Louis became more friendly and better able to help her. In 1468 she sent Jasper Tudor to raise a revolt in Wales. In 1469 she collected troops and waited at Harfleur, hoping to invade England (Wyrcester, p. 792). In the spring of 1470 Warwick quarrelled finally with Edward IV and fled to France. He besought the help of Louis XI, who wished to bring about a reconciliation between him . and Margaret with the object of combining the various elements of the opposition to Edward IV. There were grave difficulties in the way. Warwick had spread abroad the foulest accusations against Margaret, had publicly denounced her son as a bastard (Chastellain. v. 464; Basin, i. 299), and the queen’s pride surrendered an accommodation difficult. At last Warwick made an unconditional submission, and humbly besought Margaret’s pardon for his past offenses. He went to Angers, where Margaret then was, and remained there from 15 July tn 4 Aug. Louis XI was there at the same time on a visit to King René. Louis and René urged Margaret very strongly to pardon Warwick, and at last she consented to do so. Moreover, she was also persuaded to conclude a treaty of marriage between her son and Warwicks daughter, Aime Neville. All parties swore on the relic of the true cross preserved at St. Mary’s Church at Angers to remain faithful for the future to Henry VI (Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 134). Soon after Warwick sailed to England. In September Henry VI was released from the Tower and restored to the throne. But Edward IV soon returned to England, and on Easter day, 14 April 1471, his victory at Barnet resulted in the death of Warwick and the final captivity of Henry.

Margaret had delayed long in France. In November she was with Louis at Amboise. Thence she went with her eon to Paris. In February 1471 Henry urged that his wife and son should join him without delay (Fœdera, xi. 193). But it was not until 24 March that Margaret and Edward took ship at Harfleur, along with the Countess of Warwick and some other Lancastrian leaders. But contrary winds long made it impossible for her to cross the Channel (Waurin, p. 664). At divers times they took the sea and forsook it again’ (Restoration of Edward IV, Camden Soc, p. 22). It was not until 13 April that a change of the weather enabled her to sail finally away. Next day she landed at Weymouth. It was the same Easter Sunday on which the cause of Lancaster was finally overthrown at Barnet. Next day she went to Cerne Abbey, where she was joined by the Duke of Somerset and the Earl of Devonshire. The tidings of Warwick’s defeat were now known, whereat Margaret was ‘right heavy and sore.’ However, she was well received by the country-people. A general rising followed in the west; Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Cornwall, and Devonshive.’ all contributed their quote to swell Margaret’s little force. Margaret, who had advanced to Exeter, received there a large contingent from Devonshire and Cornwall. She then marched north-eastwards, through Glastonbury to Bath. Her object was either to cross the Severn and join Jasper Tudor in Wales, or to march northwards to her partisans in Cheshire and Lancashire, but she sent outposts far to the east, hoping to make Edward believe that her real object was to advance to London. Edward was too good a general to be deceived, and on 29 April, the day of Margaret’s arrival at Bath, he had reached Cirencester to block her northward route. Margaret, on hearing this, retreated from Bath to Bristol. She then marched up the Severn volley, through Berkeley and Gloucester, while Edward followed her on a parallel course along the Cotswolds. On the morning of 3 May Margaret’s army, which had marched all night, reached Gloucester. But the town was obstinately closed against the Lancastrian forces, and they could not therefore use the Severn bridge, which would have enabled them to escape to Wales. The soldiers were now quite tired out, but they struggled on another ten miles to Tewkesbury, where at length, with their backs on the town and abbey, and retreat cut off by the Severn and the Avon and the Swilgate brook, they turned to defend themselves as best they could from the approaching army of King Edward. They held the ridge of a hill ‘in a marvellous strong ground full difficult to be assailed.’ But the strength of the position did not check the rapid advance of the stronger force and the better general. On 4 May Edward won the battle of Tewkesbury, and Margaret’s son was slain on the field (see Restoration of Edward IV, Camden Soc.; cf. the account in Comines, Mémoires, ed. Dupont, Preuves to vol. iii., from a Ghent manuscript.)

Margaret was not present on the battlefield, having retired with her ladies to a poor religious place’ on the road between Tewkesbury and Worcester, which cannot be, as some have suggested, Deerhurst. There she was found three days later and taken prisoner. She was brought to Edward IV at Coventry. On 21 May she was drawn through London streets on a carriage before her triumphant rival (Cont. Croyland, p. 565). Three days later her husband was murdered in the Tower. Margaret remained in restraint for the next five years. Edward IV gave it out that she was living in proper state and dignity, and that she preferred to remain thus in England to returning to France (Basin, ii. 270). Yorkist writers speak of Edward’s compassionate and honourable treatment of her; how he assigned her a household of fifteen noble persons to serve her in the house of Ludy Audley in London, where she had her dwelling (Waurin, p. 674). She was, however, moved about from one place to another, being transferred from London to Windsor, and thence to Watlingford, where she had as her keeper her old friend the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, who lived not far off, at Ewelme (Paston Letters, ii. 33). The alliance between Louis XI and Edward IV, established by the treaty of Picquigny, led to her release. On 2 Oct. 1475 Louis stipulated for her liberation in return for a ransom of fifty thousand gold crowns and a renunciation of all her rights to the English throne (Champollion-Figeac, Lettres de Rois, &c. ii. 493-4 in Documents Inédits), Margaret was conveyed over the Channel to Dieppe, and thence to Rouen, where, on 29 Jan. 1476, she was transferred to the French authorities.

Margaret’s active career was now over. Her father René had retired since 1470 to bis county of Provence. In his will, made in 1474, he had provided for Margaret a legacy of a thousand crowns of gold, and, if ‘returned to France, an annuity of two thousand livres toumois, chargeable on the duchy of Bar, and the castle of Kœurs for dwelling (Lecoy, i. 392; Calmet, Hist. Lorraine, Preuves, iii. dclxxix). But Louis XI, angry at René’s attempt to perpetuate the power of the house of Anjou, had taken Bar and Anjou into his own hands; so that Margaret on her arrival found herself dependent on the goodwill of her cousin. Louis conferred upon her a pension, but in return for this, and for the sum paid for her ransom, she had to make a full surrender of all her rights of succession to the dominions of her father and mother. The convention printed by Lecoy (Le Roi René, ii. 356-8). It was renewed in 1479 and 1480.

Margaret’s father died in 1481, but it is probable that she never saw him after her return, as he lived entirely in Provence with his young wife, and cared for little but his immediate pleasures and interests. Her after Yolande she quarrelled with, having at the instigation of Louis XI brought a suit against her for the succession to their mother’s estates. This deprived her of the asylum in the Barrois which her father had apointed. She therefore left Louppi, where she had previously lived (Calmet, iii. xxv, Preuves), and retired to her old haunts in Anjou. which after 1476 was again nominally ruled by her father. She dwelt first at the manor of Keenly, and later at the castle of Dampierre, near Saumur, There she lived in extreme poverty and isolation. She occupied herself by reading the touching treatise, composed at her request by Chastellain, which speaks of the misfortunes of the contemporary princes and nobles of her house and race and countries (‘Le Temple du Boccace, remonstrances par manière de consolation à une désolée reine d’Angleterre,’ printed in Chastellain, vii. 76-143, ed. Kervyn ; it includes a long imaginary dialogue between Margaret and Boccaccio). But her health soon gave way. On 2 Aug. 1483 she drew up her short and touching testament {printed by Lecoy, ii. 395-7), in which, ‘sane of understanding, but weak and infirm of body,’ she surrenders all her rights and property to her only protector. King Louis. If the king pleases, she desires to be buried in the cathedral of St. Maurice at Angers, by the side of her father and mother. ‘Moreover my wish is, if it please the said lord king, that the small amount of property which God and he have given to me tw employed in burying me and in paying my debts, and in case that my goods are not sufficient for this, as I believe will be the case, I beg the said lord king of his favour to pay them for me, for in him is my sole hope and trust.’ She died soon afterwards, on 25 Aug. 1482. Louis granted her request, and buried her with her ancestors in Angers Cathedral, where her tomb was destroyed during the Revolution. The attainder on her was reversed in 1485 by the first parliament of Henry VII (Rot. Parl, vi. 288).

Among the commemorations of Margaret in literature may be mentioned Michael Drayton’s ‘Miseries of Queen Marcaret’ and the same writer’s epistles between her and Suffolk in ‘England’s Heroical Epistles’ (Spenser Soc. No. 46). Shakespeare is probably little responsible for the well-known portrait of Margaret in ‘King Henry VI.’ Margaret was also the heroine of an opera, composed about 1820 by Meyerbeer.

A list of portraits assumed to represent Margaret is given by Valiet de Virivilie in the Nouvelle Biographie Générale,’ xxxiii. 693. These include a representation of her on tapestry at Coventry, figured by Shaw, ‘Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages,’ ii. 47, which depicts her as ‘a tall stately woman, with somewhat of a masculine face.’ But there is no reason for believing that this is anything but a conventional representation. The picture belonging to the Duke of Sutherland and supposed to represent Margaret’s marriage to Henry (Catalogue of National Portrait Exhibition, 1866, p. 4) is equally suspected. The figure which Walpole thought represented Margaret is engraved in Mrs. Hookham’s ‘Life,’ vol. ii. Two other engravings by Elstracke and Faber respectively are known.

[The biographies of Margaret are numerous. They include: (1) Michel Baudier’s History of the Calamities of Margaret of Anjou, London, 1737; a mere romance, ‘fécond en harangues et en réflexions,’ and translated from a French manuscript that had never been printed. (2) The Abbé Prévost’s Histoire de Marguerite d’Anjou, 2 vols., Amsterdam, 1750, a work of imaginition by the author of Manon Lescaut. (3) Louis Lallement’s Marguerite d’Anjou-Lorraine, Nancy, 1855. (4) J. J. Roy’s Histoire de Marguerite d’Anjou, Tours, 1857. (5) Miss Strickland’s Life in Queens of England, i. 534-640 (6-vol. ed.); one of the weakest of the series, and very uncritical. (6) Mrs. Hookham’s Life of Margaret of Anjou, 2 vols., 1872; an elaborate compilation that, though containing many facts, is of no very great value, being mostly derived from modern sources, used without discrimination. (7) Vallet de Viriville’s Memoir in the Nouvelle Biographie Générale, xxxiii. 585-94; short but useful, though of unequal value, and giving elaborate but not always very precise references to printed and manuscript authorities. Better modern versions than in the professed biographers can be collected from Lecoy de la Marche’s Le Roi René; G. Du Fresne de Beaucourt’s Histoire de Charles VII; Sir James Ramsay’s History of England, 1399-1485: Stubbs’s Const. Hist. vol.iii.; Pauli’s Englische Geschichte, vol. v.; Mr. Gairdner’s Introductions to the Paston Letters; and Mr. Plummer’s Introduction to his edition of Fortescue’s Governance of England. Among contemporary authorities the English chronicles are extremely meagre, and little illustrate the character, policy, and motives of Margaret. They are enumerated in the article on Henry VI. The foreign chronicles are very full and circumstantial, though their partisanship, ignorance, and love of picturesque effect make extreme caution necessary in using them. It is, however, from them only that Margaret’s biography can for the most part be drawn. Of the above, Chastellain, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhore, is the most important; but Mathieu d’Escouchy, Basin, Philippe de Comines, and Waurin also contain much that is valuable. They are all quoted from the editions of the Société de l’Histoire de France, except Waurin, who is referred to in the recently completed Rolls Series edition. The most important collections of documents are: Rymer’s Fœdera, vols, x-xii.; Nicolas’s Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, vols. iii-vi.; the Rolls of Parliament, vols. v. and vi.; Stevenson’s Wars of the English in France (Rolls Series); the Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner. Other and less general authorities are quoted in the text. A large number of letters of Margaret of Anjou, covering the ten years that followed her marriage, have been published by Mr. C. Monro for the Camden Society, 1803, but are of no great value.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 36
Margaret (1430-1482) by Thomas Frederick Tout ‎

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