The BBC historical dramatisation ‘The White Queen’ based on a book written by Philippa Gregory, seeks to give a female perspective to history in the 15th Century by portraying events from the Queen’s view. The three ladies most in the drama are Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort. You may say you’ve never heard of them and that is what the programme seeks to address.
Following defeat of the House of Lancaster by the House of York, Elizabeth Woodville, a Lancastrian marries the new king and becomes a Yorkist. Margaret Beaufort is mother to Henry Tudor the future Henry VII and lives at Pembroke Castle in Wales. They say the code of chivalry enabled women to survive when their husbands had been brutally murdered after being on the losing side in battle.
Basically Lancaster is all but finished but Henry Tudor is their hope. Margaret Beaufort is a woman of very strong belief with a mission to put her son on the throne. After the death of her husband in battle with the Yorkists she marries Lord Stanley. This is the local link.
Lord Stanley is a major landowner and ruler in north-west England. He’s known to have a foot in both camps and manages to remain alive who-ever is in power. Stanleys were in their seat at West Derby, now in Liverpool, and known as the Earl of Derby (in Lancashire). Although Liverpool wasn’t significant in the 15th century.
The Stanley’s were MP of Preston. Several parks, pubs, even a football team in the region are named after them. Greenhalgh Castle at Garstang was built by the same Stanley as in the White Queen in 1490, it was ruined by Cromwell in the Civil Wars.
Another regional link is that a painting of Elizabeth Woodville hangs in Dunham Massey (National Trust) near Manchester. Don’t know why though. Click Here for a link to a print of it.
This is an interesting programme although difficult to grasp who the main players really are until you’ve watched a few episodes. The companion programme, The White Queen and her rivals, also on now assists in making sense of it.