The main characters of the War of the Scarlet and White Roses. Mothers of Kings: Catherine of Valois

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The main characters of the War of the Scarlet and White Roses. Mothers of Kings: Catherine of Valois
Statues of the kings of England in York Minster, from William the Conqueror to Henry VI


We will lay down our weapons instead of gold,
What is it for, since Henry is gone?
When a mother feeds a baby with tears,
The region will become a lake of salty tears,
And women alone will mourn the dead.

"Henry VI", William Shakespeare,
translation by E. Birukova.

History in faces. Today we are starting a new cycle of historical personalities related to the history of the Middle Ages. Many of the VO readers expressed wishes for the continuation of the “medieval theme”, and... why not continue it, if the ruler always has his own hand. Well, to begin with, we will choose the most dramatic and bloody era - the War of the Scarlet and White Roses.



At one time, on the VO website we had a series of articles about the battles of this time and the armor of the participants in the battles. Today our story will be about the people who became the cause and participants in this bloody war, which led to the establishment of absolutism in England.

Well, we’ll start from “the very beginning”: with the history of those women, without whom the whole of English history would have gone completely differently.

But first, let's think about this: about the stunning ingenuity of history, which leads people along its path in such confusing ways that all concepts of good and evil are erased, and with the best intentions, as it turns out many years later, the road to hell was paved. So it was and so it will be, and none of us can understand all these intricacies of Mother Fate, as well as foresee all the consequences of our actions, most often seemingly absolutely well-intentioned!

Chronologically, the War of the Scarlet and White Roses lasted (by the way, like the Hundred Years' War between France and England) for many years. In modern historical literature, the years of this conflict are usually given as 1455–1485. It’s just that isolated clashes related to the War of the Scarlet and White Roses occurred both before and after this time. Meanwhile, in fact, it itself can be completely divided into three periods: 1455–1464, 1469–1471 and 1483–1487.

Well, let's start with a story about women. For it is women who give birth to children, and then these children become the heirs of kings and begin to fight each other for their inheritance.


Catherine Valois. Original engraving from the 1875 published book The Queens of England or the Royal Book of Beauty (or the 1851 book Biographical Sketches of the Queens of England) edited by Mary Howitt

And the first among the noble ladies of interest to us will be Catherine of Valois (1401–1437) - the youngest daughter of the French king Charles VI and Isabella of Bavaria.

By our standards today, she lived a short life, but by the will of providence she became a participant in many important events for history. She was 14 years old, quite a suitable age for marriage at that time, when the French army suffered a heavy defeat from the British at the Battle of Agincourt.


"Battle of Agincourt". Miniature from Thomas Walsingham's Chronicle of St. Alban, c. 1422 Lambeth Palace Library, London

A dynastic marriage between Catherine and King Henry V of England could ease the situation of the country and unite the defeated France and the victorious England under the rule of one king.

And so on June 2, 1419, she and her mother arrived in the city of Melun, where they met with King Henry. Her beauty made a strong impression on him, and she was indeed a very beautiful girl, so, in addition to political considerations, banal but eternal love also had its say here.


King of England Henry V. National Portrait Gallery. London

Lengthy negotiations followed, the result of which was the Treaty of Troyes, announced in its main cathedral on May 21, 1419. According to this agreement, the English king Henry V was declared the heir of the King of France, Charles VI the Mad, bypassing the legal heir to the throne of the future Charles VII, which meant both de facto and de jure the annexation of France to England and their merging into a single kingdom.


Text of the Treaty of Troyes. British National Archives, London

The Dauphin Charles was thus declared illegitimate, although none of the clauses of the agreement directly stated this.

It would be difficult for Henry V to wish for a more advantageous marriage. After all, England was supposed to receive 40 ecus every year as Catherine’s dowry. True, King Charles VI and Isabella of Bavaria retained their titles of king and queen until their deaths.


"Chronicles of England from 55 BC." e. to 1485”, page 373. “The marriage of Henry V and Catherine of France.” London. Longman. Roberts and Green. Artist James William Edmund Dole (1822–1892). British Library, London

On June 2, 1420, in the same Troyes, in the Church of St. John, King Henry and Catherine of Valois were solemnly united in holy marriage. Well, Henry organized her coronation later - on February 23, 1421, in Westminster Abbey and, as chroniclers note, he conducted it with great pomp.


Marriage of Henry V and Catherine of Valois. Miniature from Jean Cartier’s manuscript “The Chronicle of Charles VII”, 1490 France, c. 1494 England. British Library

And then God was clearly angry with Henry V and did not allow him to properly enjoy the bonds of marriage. He fell ill and died on August 31, 1422 in France at the castle of Vincennes. His wife took his body to England, where on November 7 he was buried in Westminster Abbey. In memory of him, Catherine decorated Henry's grave with his beautiful sculpture. However, sculptural images of this king, famous for his victories, decorate many cathedrals in Britain.


Henry V's tomb in Westminster Abbey

The most important thing is that she managed to fulfill the main duty of any queen, that is, she managed to give birth to her husband’s son and heir, the future King Henry VI (1421–1471).

After the death of his father, he was elevated to the English throne on August 31, 1422, when he was only eight months old. And two months later, on October 21, 1422, another important event occurred: after the death of his grandfather Charles VI, he also became the legitimate king of France on the basis of the “Treaty of Troyes.”


Statue of Henry V in Canterbury Cathedral. Photography by Jonathan Cardy

As for Catherine, in 1427–1429 she lived quietly and peacefully at court. She did not enjoy the special trust of the English nobility, but Parliament gave her vast lands, and they treated her with sufficient respect, although they noted her agility in relations with men and her “cheerful disposition.” She could enter into a new marriage only with the permission of the royal council and for a person equal to her in origin.


Vincennes Castle in miniature by Jean Fouquet (1452–1460). National Library of France, Paris

And it was then that an event happened that became a direct prologue to the War of the Scarlet and White Roses: the Dowager Queen found herself a lover! Who was he? Oh, this is exactly the most interesting thing!

Not even very noble, but still a Welsh nobleman, but a descendant of one of the most powerful rulers of the kingdom of Deheubarth of Wales - Rhys ap Gruffydd Owen Tudor.


Dinevur is the main castle of the kingdom of Deheubarth. Photography by Andrew Bohn

He pronounced his surname in the English manner - Tudor, in honor of his grandfather Tidir ap Goronwy, and so it turned out that he became the founder of this surname in England.

The circumstances of the Queen Mother's acquaintance with Owen Tudor are shrouded in darkness. The marriage with him was concluded somewhere in 1428 and 1432, but during the queen’s lifetime it was kept secret and was announced only after her death.

From this marriage children were born, quite a lot: Thomas Tudor (1429–1502), who became a monk, Edmund and Jasper, and daughters Tacinda Tudor (1425–1469), Margaret, who became a nun, and Catherine, who died in early childhood .

Edmund Tudor subsequently took Margaret Beaufort of the Beaufort family as his wife. He died of the plague in 1456, but managed to give birth to a son, named Henry.

And it is precisely this son of Edmund and Margaret who will become the future king of England - Henry VII.

So, in a completely incredible way, the French princess, who belonged to the Valois family, became the ancestor of the new royal dynasty of the Tudors, and being the wife of a king from the Lancaster family, whose emblem was... a scarlet rose!

To be continued ...
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30 comments
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  1. +5
    December 7 2023
    Thank you, Vyacheslav Olegovich!

    Omar Khayyam said long ago:

    For those who see the inside behind the appearance,
    Evil with good is like gold and silver.
    For both are given for a while,
    For both evil and good will soon end.

    1. +5
      December 7 2023
      Glad you liked it.
  2. +5
    December 7 2023
    The Dauphin Charles was thus declared illegitimate, although none of the clauses of the agreement directly stated this.

    Yes, the Dauphin was just declared an enemy of the Kingdom of France! For Isabella's official admission that she did not give birth to Charles would be too blatant a lie.
    Thank you, Vyacheslav Olegovich!
  3. +2
    December 7 2023
    Good morning everyone and good mood. Vyacheslav Olegovich, thank you for the new-old cycle. As a woman, what is more interesting to me is not battles, but the fates of people and their characters.
    As far as I know: Isabella of Bavaria in France is not the most revered person. This is a delicate expression, and she is perceived negatively. I haven’t read it personally, but from the words of friends and history teachers, in their historical literature. Isabella is not favored.
    An interesting passage: “She did not enjoy the special trust of the English nobility.” I wonder why?
    1) did you think that she felt like her homeland?
    2) for a cheerful disposition, but what to do: young women love laughter and fun
    1. +3
      December 7 2023
      Kate! She not only loved laughter and fun, but also “snuggling in corners.” Owen was not her only lover. I didn’t write about the rest. And the nobility did not like her not only because of this, but also because she was the daughter of... an enemy. Suddenly it will negatively influence my son. Pro-French, so to speak.
      1. +4
        December 7 2023
        Still, I was not mistaken: the British remembered that she was French, but how justified were their fears?
        If she was an intelligent woman, then a lot of intrigue and snuggling in corners does not in any way affect her interests and views.
        For example, Ekaterina 2, I have a screensaver on my phone - Ekaterina 2 in her youth, she fell in love with Russia, albeit with selfish feelings, but as a politician and a woman, I like her.
        That she had many affairs, but first of all, who, being near sour cream, would eat mustard?
        Secondly, her novels did not affect the interests of the state.
        Thirdly, from the point of view of the 21st century, it is stupid to evaluate the actions of the 18th century. At that time this was not something exceptional
        1. +4
          December 7 2023
          Quote from lisikat2
          Secondly, her novels did not affect the interests of the state.

          People love to show off their “virtue” while pointing it out to others. It seems to you that they were not reflected. But it was more profitable then to say that they were reflected and... “as if something would not happen.”
    2. +1
      December 7 2023
      I wrote to you in a personal message. Look...
    3. +1
      December 7 2023
      Quote from lisikat2
      Good morning everyone

      Katenka-Katyusha. I wrote to you in a personal message. Look.
  4. 0
    December 7 2023
    Thanks to the Author, the Middle Ages are a very interesting period for me.

    If the Author is interested (and I am interested), maybe he will someday not consider it difficult to write about the death of Richard the Lionheart, there is some kind of dark story there. Or in general about this unique king, or rather knight on the throne.

    In general, if a war goes on for 50 or 100 years and leads to monstrous casualties - Cherche la femme :)
    Or maybe this is a universal way to find the cause of any events.
    1. +5
      December 7 2023
      write about the death of Richard the Lionheart, there is some kind of dark story there. Or in general about this unique king, or rather knight on the throne.
      No dark story - he received a crossbow bolt in the carcass and died of sepsis a few days later.
      The general description of the character is a huge dunce, one of the most worthless kings on the English throne.
      1. +2
        December 7 2023
        Anton, greetings. “one of the most worthless kings” I bet that when I read it the first time, I re-read it twice: “Ivanhoe” you assessed him differently
        1. +2
          December 7 2023
          Hello, Glory!
          I won’t even argue.
          1. +2
            December 7 2023
            In Walter Scott, Richard is a noble knight and a good-natured merry fellow, and his brother, John, is a little bitch
    2. +4
      December 7 2023
      Dear Sergey! I can't write about him yet. No basis. But... one of my good friends wrote a whole series of the book “Blessed Kings” (an anagram of “Cursed Kings” by Druon. I was responsible for the weapons in it, so that everything was correct and there were no swords with diamond handles. And there in one of the novels his murder is described in detail. He studied this topic for many years and became an expert in it. The French Ministry of Culture wanted to publish the series, they liked it so much, but... the Great Patriotic War came, sanctions and alas. But I advise you to read these books of his. Name author Viktor Vasilievich Bushmin.
      1. +2
        December 7 2023
        I looked at it, it’s interesting, maybe I’ll read it (not this series, I didn’t find this one, he has others) - Druon, I read and re-read it, it’s interesting and, probably, historical. Thank you.
        1. +3
          December 7 2023
          Quote: S.Z.
          interesting,

          By the way, Sergey, if you are interested in medieval themes, I’ll let you know. Soon, in January, my book “The Hardworking Middle Ages” will be published with colorful, authentic illustrations. Here are two types of cover. I like the second one better. There the armored man is playing with a cat. Very funny drawn...
  5. +2
    December 7 2023
    Quote: 3x3zsave
    write about the death of Richard the Lionheart, there is some kind of dark story there. Or in general about this unique king, or rather knight on the throne.
    No dark story - he received a crossbow bolt in the carcass and died of sepsis a few days later.
    The general description of the character is a huge dunce, one of the most worthless kings on the English throne.


    I read this, but I saw very few sources; it even seems that all the messages come from one source. The same applies to the death of his killer.
  6. +2
    December 7 2023
    Quote: 3x3zsave
    The general description of the character is a huge dunce, one of the most worthless kings on the English throne.


    The British themselves, judging by their websites and books, think differently. However, for some reason they respect all their celebrities.
    1. +3
      December 7 2023
      The British themselves, judging by their websites and books, think differently

      We open the classic of British history - the third volume of Runciman's History of the Crusades.
      he was a bad son, a bad husband and a bad king, but a valiant and magnificent soldier
      1. +3
        December 7 2023
        However, for some reason they erected a monument to him in London and did not demolish it as a bad king. I don't mean that he was a good king, but that they honor their past.
  7. +3
    December 7 2023
    Thank you! How interesting! These are truly the intricacies of fate... I really want a continuation!
  8. +3
    December 7 2023
    So, in a completely incredible way, the French princess, who belonged to the Valois family, became the ancestor of the new royal dynasty of the Tudors, and being the wife of a king from the Lancaster family

    Edmund Tudor subsequently took Margaret Beaufort of the Beaufort family as his wife.

    Margaret Beaufort (Lady Margaret Beaufort) - she is also from the Lancaster family. Her great-grandfather, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt) - founder of the House of Lancaster.
    1. +3
      December 7 2023
      Quote: Dekabrist
      Margaret Beaufort (Lady Margaret Beaufort) - she is also from the Lancaster family. Her great-grandfather, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (John of Gaunt) - founder of the House of Lancaster.

      One of the following materials will be devoted to her and her fate in full detail. It is only mentioned here for now.
  9. +3
    December 7 2023
    I welcome you to come to this topic from afar. The roots of bright events are often left withoutоfalse lighting. I was amused by the illustration of a wedding from the French - everyone has such sour expressions)
  10. BAI
    +2
    December 7 2023
    A 15th century drawing shows Henry V with long hair, while 19th century drawings show him with short hair.
    Whom to believe?
    1. +2
      December 7 2023
      Quote: BAI
      A 15th century drawing shows Henry V with long hair, while 19th century drawings show him with short hair.
      Whom to believe?

      I think it's still the 15th. In the 19th century they were still quite free with drawings on a medieval theme.
  11. +3
    December 7 2023
    Comrades, it’s unfortunate that I only looked into History now. V. Oh, THANK YOU for the interesting material
    1. +3
      December 7 2023
      Check back often, Svyatoslav. There will be another series of articles about the Middle Ages. That is, two cycles at once.
  12. 0
    December 8 2023
    A cool mess, like a detective story. And here we remember Sayeta Barbara, she doesn’t hold a candle to them, life turned out to be cooler! Thank you, Vyacheslav Olegovich!

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