GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2004-01 > 1074328485
From: (Brad Verity)
Subject: Edward IV's Birthdate (Was: Britain's Real Monarch)
Date: 17 Jan 2004 00:34:45 -0800
It's been about a week since this topic was discussed, but here is
Professor Michael Hicks's opinion on Edward IV's birthdate, alleged
illegitimacy, and the discrepancy between Wyrcester's Annales and the
Rouen Cathedral register for Elizabeth of York's birth and baptism
Professor Hicks wrote a book I've very much enjoyed - "Richard III and
His Rivals: Magnates and Their Motives in the War of The Roses"
(Hambledon Press, 1991). He has been immersed in York details for
another book that will be published this summer, "Edward IV: For and
Against". He doesn't feel there is any substantive evidence for
Edward having been illegitimate, whether or not Wyrcester was correct
on the birthdate.
Hicks: "Historians have generally rejected the story of Edward IV's
illegitimacy, which is first recorded in 1469 - 27 years after the
and 9 years after the death of York, who obviously acknowledged
Michael Jones' recent research has made illegitimacy look feasible,
it remains unlikely. His source locates York in 1441, not the duchess;
babies don't come to order and there would be nothing remarkable if
Edward was conceived a fortnight earlier or a fortnight later; and
is no reason why we should be surprised that we do not know if he was
premature/late when we are grateful to have the mere date. Richard III
is a parallel - nothing recorded at the time against which we can
the legend. It was the ceremony for Edmund, not the lack of ceremony
Edward, which was surprising. It cannot have been meant to mean that
York valued Edmund above Edward. And of course Edward may not have
the eldest son when born - at what point did Henry die?
"I don't think myself that moving the birthdate a fortnight either way
would make much difference to the likelihood.
"I don't think we have another source for the dates of York's children
except George, who was indeed born & baptised at St Saviour's church
Dublin on the day that Worcester specifies. And now of course Edmund
[Note Dr. Michael Jones has verified the dates of baptism for Edmund
and Elizabeth from the Rouen Cathedral register: 18 May 1443 for
Edmund, and 22 Sept. 1444 for Elizabeth. As the entries provide some
detail on the ceremonies he feels the dates are not likely to be
"Worcester's Annales are not formal chronicle but a collection of
jottings. That they include all the births except Thomas and record
of the deaths suggests to me that they were taken from a family
book, jotted near the time. They don't seem to have been converted
saints days as one might expect, nor does Worcester appear to have
calculated the day of the week thirty years later when he made the
They are listed with places of birth and explanations for the errors
dates offered in James Gairdner's, Richard III (1898), 4-5. He
that Edmund 17/5/1443 should be 27/5. The error of year in the Rolls
Series volume was made by the 19th century editor Joseph Steverson:
Thomas Hearne, from whom they copied it, got 1443 right. I suppose
Edward and Elizabeth born at 2 am might pardonably be attributed to
right day. The order of births recorded is that in the Clare Roll.
"The Clare Roll is a roll of arms of the Clare family from Clare
dated 1456 that was displayed at the tomb of their ancestress Joan of
Acre. York was their heir: hence it ends with a list of their children
in England and Latin. The full version is in Dugdale's Monasticon
edition) viii. 1600-2, but here is a modern version by Ann Sutton and
Livia Visser-Fuchs 'Richard Liveth Yet:An Old Myth', The Ricardian 117
(June 1992),266-9. The relevant passages in English are - I don't
the Latin adds anything here.
"Sir,aftir the tyme of longe bareynesse,
God first sent Anne, which signifyeth grace,
In token that at her hertis hevynesse
He as for bareynesse wold fro hem chace
Harry, Edward, and Edmond, eche in his place
Succedid: and after twen doughters cam
Elizabeth and Margaret,and aftir William.
"John aftir William next borne was,
Whiche bothe be passid to Goddis grace:
George was next, and after Thomas
Borne was,which sone aftir didpace
By the pathe of dethe into the hevenly place.
Richard liveth yet; but the last of alle
Was Ursula, to him whom God list calls.
"To the duke of Excestre Anne maried is
In her tender youth: But my lord Henry
God chosen hath to enherite heven blis,
And left Edward to succeed temporally,
Now Erle of March; and Edmonde of Rutland sothly
Counte both fortunabil. To right high mariage
The other foure stonde yi in pupillage.
"Obviously Worcester could have copied them [the birthdates]
incorrectly. A couple of days is not very big in most instances.
"Alternatively the baptism of Elizabeth could have been delayed.
I agree. In that case both Worcester and the French source could be
right. But, yes, a contemporary source should be better than
"I can't add much on Edward IV's baptism except that one of his
godmothers was Elizabeth Lady Say. Born Elizabeth Boteler, sister of
Lord Sudeley (d.1468), she married (1) Sir Henry Norbury (2) William
Heron Lord Say (3)by 1431 John Montgormery (by whom she fathered
IV's councillor Sir Thomas Montgomery). She died in 1465. I noticed
that Lady Say was godmother in my 'Edward V: Prince in the Tower'
(Tempus, 2003), 206. The source not cited there was a letter from
Edward IV after his accession. Also on page 206 I noted that a
heraldic source of 1475 said that Edward IV was baptised in Rouen
cathedral - but I don't think such a late source counts for much.
"I agree that York had no credible claim till after 1447 and certainly
only a contested one thereafter. Cade's rebels denied the
suggestion that they were pro-York in 1450. But there is some evidence
York's title was advanced by Osbert Bokenham, friar of Clare in
and author of the Clare Roll, in an earlier work c. 1445 that compared
him with the upright Roman senator Stilicho. See J.L. Watts, 'De
Consulatu Stilicho: Texts and Politics in the Reign of Henry VI',
Journal of Medieval History xvi (1990) 251-66; Sheila Delany,
'Bokenham's Claudian as Yorkist Propaganda', Journal of Medieval
History xxii (1996)83-96"
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