Margaret (1446-1503) (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MARGARET, Duchess of Burgundy (1446–1503), was the third daughter of Richard, duke of York, by Cecily Nevill, daughter of Ralph, first earl of Westmorland. Edward IV was her brother. She was born at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire Tuesday, 3 Mar 1446. She was over fourteen when her father was killed at Wakefield, and nearly fifteen when her brother Edward was proclaimed king. On 30 March 1465 Edward granted her an annuity of four hundred marks out of the exchequer, which being in arrear in the following November a warrant was issued for its full payment (Rymer, 1st ed. xi, 540, 5S1 ). Two years later (24 Aug. 1467) the ammount of it was increased to 400i (Pat. 7, Edw. IV, pr. ii. m. 16). On 22 March 1160 the Earl of Warwick, Lord Hastings, And others were commissioned to negotiate a marriage for her with Charles, count of Charolais, eldest son of Philip, duke of Burgundy. Tho proposal hung for some time in the balance, and Louis XI tried to thwart it by offering her as a husband Philibert, prince of Savoy. A curious bargain mode by Sir John Paston for the purchase of horse on 1 May 1467 fixes the price at 4l., to be paid on the day of the marriage if it should take place within two years ; otherwise the price was to be only 3l. That same year Charles became Duke of Burgundy by the death of his father, and the suspended negotiations for the mornings were renewed, a great embassy being commissioned to go over to conclude it in September (Rymer, 1st ed. xi. 590). On 1 Oct., probrably before the embassy had left, Margaret herself declared her formal agreement to the match in a great council held at Kingston-upon-Thames. A further embassy was sent over to Flanders in January 1468, both for the marriage and for a commercial treaty (ib. xi. 601), and on 17 May the alliance was to parliament by the lord chancellor, when a subsidy was asked for a war against France (Rolls of Parl. v. 622).

On 18 June Margaret set out for Flanders. She was then staying at the King's Wardrobe in the city of London, from which she first went to Si. Paul's and made an offering; then, with the Earl of Warwick before her on the same horse, she rode through Cheapside, where the mayor and aldermen presented her with a pair of rich basins and 100l. in gold. That night she lodged at Stratford Abbey, where the king and queen also stayed. She was made a pilgrimage to St. Thomas of Canterbury, and embarked at Margate on the 4th. Next day she arrived at Sluys, where she had a splendid welcome with bonfires and pageants. On Sunday, the 26th, the old Duress of Burgundy, the duke's mother, paid her a visit. Next day the duke himself come to see her 'with twenty persons secretly,' and they were affanced by the Bishop of Salisbury, after which the duke took leave of her and returned to Bruges. He came again on Thursday, and the marriage look place on Sunday following {3 July) at Damme. The splendour of the festivities, which were continued for nine days, taxed even the powers of heralds to describe, and Englishmen declared that the Burgundian court was only paralleled by King Arthur's. But according to a somewhat later authority, just after the wedding the duke and his bride were nearly burned in bed by treachery in a castle near Bruges.

The marriage was a turning-point in the history of Europe, cementing the political alliance of Burgundy and the house of York. Its importance was Keen two years later, when Edward IV, driven from his throne, sought refuge with his brother-in-law in the Netherlands, and obtained from him assistance to recover it. Margaret had all along strenuously endeavoured to reconcile Edward and his brother Clarence, and it was mainly by her efforts that the latter was detached from the party of Henry VI and Warwick. Of her domestic life, however, little seems to he known. She showed much attention to Coxton, who was at the time governor of the Merchant-Adventurers at Bruges, and before March 1470-1 he resigned that appointment to enter the duchess's household. While in her service Caxton translated 'Le Recueil des Histoires de Troye,' and learned the new art of printing in order to multiply copies of his translation [see Caxton, William]. Within nine years of her marriage Margaret's husband fell at the battle of Nancy, 6 Jan. 1477, and she was left a childless widow. In July or August 1480 she paid a visit to the king, her brother, in England, and remained there till the end of September. During her stay she obtained several licenses to export oxen and sheep to Flanders, and also to export wool free of custom (French Roll, 20 Edw. IV, mm. 2, 5, 6). The rest of her life was passed in the Netherlands, when she was troubled at times in the possession of her jointure by Iha rebellious Flemings, and continually plotting against Henry VII after he came to the throne. A large part of the dowry granted her by Edward IV was confiscated on Henry's succession ; and for this cause, douhtless, as well as party spirit, her court became a refuge for disaffected Yorkists. She encouraged the two impostors, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, receiving the latter al her court as her nephew Richard, duke of York, and writing in his favour to other princes; but she was obliged in 1493 to apologise to Henry for her factiousness. In 1500 she stood godmother to the future emperor, Charles V, a great-grandson of her husband's, named after him. She died at Mechlin in l503, and was buried in the church of the Cordeliers.

A good portrait of Margaret, painted on panel, once the property of the Rev. Thomas Kerrich [q, v.], librarian of Cambridge University, is now in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House. It shows a lady of fair complexion, with red lips, dork eyes, and arched eyebrows; but her hair is entirely concealed under one of the close-fitting high headdresses of the period. The artist, Mr. Scharf thinks, was probably Hugo Vander Goes, who is recorded to have been employed on the decorations for Margaret's wedding. The picture was engraved in vol. v. of the first edition of the 'Paston Letters' (1804), and more recently in Blades's 'Life and Typography of William Caxton' (1861).

[Wilhelmi Worcester Annales; Excerpta Historica, pp. 223-39; Memoires d'Olivier de la Marche, iii. 101-201 (Soc. de 1'Hist. de France); Memoires de Haynin (Soc. des Bibliophiles de Mons), i. 106 sq.; Waurin's Recueil des Chroniques, vol. v. (Rolls ed.); Compte Kendu des Seances de la Commission Royale d'Histoire, Brussels, 1842, pp. 168-74, ib. 4th ser. ii. 9-22; Fragment relating to King Edward IV, at end of Sprott's Chronicle (Hearne), p. 296; Archæologia, xxxi. 327-38; Memorials of Henry VII, and Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII (Rolls Ser.); Calendars of State Papers (Venetian and Spanish); Hall's Chron.; Sandford's Geneal. Hist.]

J. G.