Loyalty Binds Me (Let Us Talk about the Sad Stories of Kings)

mySharingI chose the name for the blog because I have been reading everything I can on Richard III. “Loyalty Binds Me” happens to be Richard’s motto, which can be read quite ironically if you believe he murdered his brother’s kids to steal the throne for himself. Like many, I found Richard III through the scholarship of the Tudor dynasty. Despite the numerous scandals that plagued his kingship, Richard lacks the allure of scandalous marriages and beheadings or the ferocity of a Virgin Queen. The world of Richard was another beast entirely. Richard’s relationships with his brothers indicate a closeness that is missing in other stories of royal families, an element of modernity that surprised me. Meanwhile, his courtship and marriage with Anne Neville is so often neglected in stories of the romances of kings. Perhaps because of its Shakespearean legacy, this love match between two souls haunted by family tragedy receives little attention in the discussion of royal marriages. As the Kingmaker’s daughter, Anne Neville is a fascinating enigma– a pawn in her father’s rebellions, a Queen keenly aware of the fragility of kingship and the role of women within it. She must have been stronger than her image of a sickly consort to live through all that she did, see the members of her family fall spectacularly like Biblical tales due to corruptible ambition and blood lines, and manage to bypass a fate of the nunnery to become first the Lady of the North and then Queen of England. Richard’s love story will always be overshadowed by the questions of the illegitimacy of his brief reign—the English people did not forget the “Princes in the Tower” during Richard’s time and certainly the fates of the would-be boy King and his brother still encourage speculation and the filling in of fiction where history stops. When I first began my discovery of Richard, I suspected that he gave the orders for the deaths of his nephews. Living heirs to the throne are not long in this life. I am not ashamed to admit that I do not know any more. I do know this for certain–Richard has been condemned for centuries as the wicked usurper, a deformed creature within a dying dynasty. But he is not the thing we have made him.

If you are interested in reading about Richard III, I recommend the novel The Sunne in Splendour. It is a great read even for those who are unfamiliar with this part of history. Anne Neville’s story is told in The Kingmaker’s Daughter, however I will warn that Gregory’s treatment of the Duke of Clarence arc is problematic.

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