Today I'd like to welcome Cynthia Haggard to talk a little bit about her recently released book about Cecylee Neville.
Turns out that her name was really Elizabeth, but she allowed herself to be called Jane.
Now why would that be? Would it be because Jane Shore - who comes across as a generous, kind-hearted individual - allowed her first name to change so that she would not compete with the other important woman in Edward’s life, his wife Queen Élisabeth Woodville? Perhaps she thought that one Elizabeth was enough for King Edward IV. What does seem to be true is that Edward was fond of Jane Shore, who was witty and intelligent, and seems to have been the recipient of many confidences. She provides an important link to evidence that gives us some indication of how Cecylee Neville - Edward’s formidable mother and the protagonist of THWARTED QUEEN - felt when she learned that he had secretly married Elisabeth Woodville.
As an old woman, Jane Shore was befriended by Sir Thomas More - the famous catholic martyr who was beheaded in 1535 - early in the reign of Henry VIII. The event she remembered occurred many years before, in September 1464, when Edward confounded everyone by announcing his secret marriage. His mother was dismayed and hurt. Dismayed, because Edward’s new Queen would take precedence over her. Hurt, because he had not confided in her. It was all the more distressing because his cousin, Warwick the Kingmaker, had been on the point of concluding negotiations for the hand of the French King’s sister.
Sir Thomas More recounts the row that erupted, as it came from the lips of Jane Shore. Cecylee told her son that it was his duty as King of England to marry into a noble or royal house from the continent. She said that it was wholly inappropriate for a monarch to marry his own subject, where no honor or lands could be secured by it.
“A rich man,” she declared,” would marry his maid only for a little wanton dotage on her person. In which marriage, many more commend the maiden’s fortune than the master’s wisdom. And yet...there is between no merchant and his own maid so great a difference as between the King and this widow. And marrying a widow,” she added as a parting shot, “only made matters worse.”
Jane Shore apparently told Sir Thomas More that when King Edward rebuffed Cecylee’s complaint, she “devised to disturb this marriage.”
But she didn’t succeed. Despite his uncontrollable womanizing, Elizabeth Woodville managed to hold her husband’s attention long enough to give him ten children over a period of fourteen years.
But Cecylee loathed her daughter-in-law and never forgave her son, and her dismay and hurt feelings helped to fuel the second phase of the Wars of the Roses, in which Edward nearly lost his throne.
About the book:
THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.
Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.
The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.
But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.
Born and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at: