It looks like cramming twenty years of the Wars of the Roses into ten episodes is going to be rather problematic. Elizabeth is already pregnant with the first of her ten York children by Edward. Warwick spends most of the episode plotting and calling Elizabeth a witch. Historically these accusations had yet to be made, but if Elizabeth is going to be an actual witch then I suppose we shall have to call her one. We get our first close look at the dreadful adaptation of Margaret Beaufort, and the Neville sisters Anne and Isabel. Warwick brings Henry VI in as a prisoner to try and curry favour with Edward, hoping to seal a betrothal between his daughters and Edward’s younger brothers, but Elizabeth talks him out of it. Then there’s some plotting, and more plotting, and Izzy is married off to George. Warwick’s first rebellion against Edward ends in the tragic murder of Elizabeth’s father Richard and her brother John, which of course gives us the opportunity for another spell.
History buffs around the world shrieked in agony as Warwick ordered Margaret of Anjou’s portrait to be burned. That was a nice touch.
The Good: The Neville sisters this week gave us a closer look at the harsh reality of daughters being used as pawns in political alliances. The touching scene of two sisters alone in their bedroom, playing a game with shadow puppets drives home how young these girls were when they were sold off to the highest bidder.
The Bad: There seems to be a distinct lack of servants in this series. Not only is Edward undressing Elizabeth after their coronation, rather than three or four of her ever-absent ladies in waiting, he drops her priceless cloth-of gold gown on the floor, which in reality probably would have put ruinous creases in it.
The Ugly: I feel that Philippa Gregory made a very strange choice when she entirely invented the relationship between Jasper Tudor and Margaret Beaufort. There is not a shred of historical evidence for it. Jasper did protect his sister-in-law, she was a 13 year-old widow and seven months pregnant with his brother’s child, and Jasper took her into his care at Pembroke Castle. He clearly was more of a gentleman than his oaf of an older brother, who bedded his twelve year old bride (with the blessing of his half-brother the King), the result almost killing her in childbirth and ruining her future chances for any more children.
Margaret married Henry Stafford when she was just fourteen years old, and her husband treated her well. The marriage developed into a mutually devoted relationship, with Margaret the picture of happiness according to her contemporaries, and the couple celebrated their wedding anniversary every year. Apparently the chivalrous gentleman protecting and cherishing his young bride, as Stafford truly was, was not romantic enough. The “affair” disgusted me in the book, and with this even more ridiculous scripted version of Margaret Beaufort, disgusts me further.
With that said does anyone not wonder that a woman who is so pious she fasts herself sick wouldn’t bat an eyelid at coveting her brother-in-law right in front of her husband? Margaret also saw her first sign from God, and then pulled some really bizarre ecstatic faces that merely made me concerned for her health, rather than the chilling effect they were going for.
By Olga Hughes.
Olga Hughes enjoys Philippa Gregory and history, to the horror of many. She runs the online magazine Nerdalicious with her partner C.S. Hughes.