Monday, August 18, 2008

Question from Nikki - "Britain's Real Monarch"

I was watching a documentary today titled "Britan's Real Monarch." The documentary claims that the current Queen is not really the true claimant to the throne. This dates back hundreds of years to Edward IV, who was claimed to be a bastard.

Edward IV's birthday was April 28th, which would have put him as being conceived in July or August of the previous year. The problem with that is that Edward's father was in France fighting a war during that time. The royal family tried to claim that Edward was conceived a couple months before Edward's father left, which would make him about 8 weeks overdue. There was a lavish christening celebration for Edward's younger brother, but Edward's christening was very low key.

There were rumors of Edward's mother, Cecily, having an affair, which would put truth to the bastard claim. If this is true, that would mean that Henry VII's wife was not of royal blood, which of course is why he married her...to unite the houses of York and Lancaster. They claim that this would've made Elizabeth and Henry VII both illegitimate, which would of course make the royal bloodline completely different.

In the documentary they traced the royal bloodline as it would have happened if Edward was illegitimate. Margaret, Countess of Saulisbury is the blood line that they follow for the descent, as she would've been the true Plantaganet heir since her brother, Edward, Earl of Warrick, was locked up in The Tower where he died. (We know that Henry had her executed because of her claim to the throne.)

Michael Hastings is claimed to be Britain's current monarch and he lives in Australia. He moved in 1960 when he was 17 and would've been King Michael I. He's a Plantaganet descendant. Interestingly, he's in favor of a republic! Haha

SO...do you think there's any truth to this? I know this is lengthy but I wanted to give you the background in the documentary.

11 comments:

Kelly said...

I don't think its true.

PhD Historian said...

The story makes a great television show, but the notion that Edward VI was "illegitimate" is not supported by either the evidence or the common law of England.

To begin with, under English common law (and incidentally American common law as well), the child of a married woman is legally also the child of that woman's husband, unless the husband publicly challenges paternity. Richard of York always claimed Edward as his own and never denied paternity, therefore Edward was Richard's child under the law.

Edward's mother Cecily was actually in France with her husband, Richard. She was living at the French city of Rouen while Richard was leading troops at Pontoise, a distance of about 50 miles, in the summer of 1441 when Edward was conceived. So it is not as though they were on opposite sides of the Channel. If Richard brought his wife with him to France, he did so in order to have her near him. And if he wanted her near, it is entirely logical that he visited her whenever he could. It is therefore absolutely possible for Edward to have been conceived by his mother's husband. It is unlikely that Cecily had an adulterous affair in France, right under her husband's nose.

Edward and Edmund were both born in Rouen, both while their father was on military campaign. They were born almost 13 months apart. A lot can happen in 13 months. Without first checking into the specific details of Richard's military campaigns, I'd wager anything that the difference in the lavishness of the two christenings can be attributed to Richard's military obligations. If he were in the midst of a major seige or other military maneuver when Edward was born, for example, that could explain why that christening was relatively low key. On the other hand, if he had just won some victory when Edmund was born, that could explain why Edmund's christening was more celebratory. I will leave it to the military historians to investigate Richard's battlefield preoccupations at the time of the two births, however.

Edward's CLAIM to the throne of England was an hereditary one, true enough. And it is also true that a claim based solely in heredity might be compromised by accusations of illegitimacy. But Edward's RIGHT to the throne was by conquest, not heredity. He defeated Henry VI in battle, twice, in order to become King of England. Illegitimacy in a conqueror is not an impediment to the full right to the Crown of England. One need only look to William the Conqueror for incontrovertible evidence of that fact. Other monarchs would go on to take the Crown of England by right of conquest after Edward, most notably Henry VII. Under unwritten English constitutional law, William the Conqueror, Edward IV, and Henry Tudor were each fully and rightfully kings of England by virtue of military conquest and subsequent recognition by the nobility of England, regardless of the legal status of their individual births.

The rumors that Edward was illegitimate did not arise until his throne was challenged. Richard Neville made the accusation in 1469 after having defeated Edward in battle and capturing him. Edward's brother George also made the accusation during his own abortive coup attempt in 1478. And Richard III made the accusation during his own reach for the throne after Edward's death. None were successful, and Richard III eventually changed focus but kept the same tactic when he leveled similar claims of illegitimacy against Edward IV's two sons. In every case, the claim was nothing more than political propaganda.

Edward IV was legally the legitimate child of Richard of York. He was almost certainly also biologically the child of Richard of York. And though his claim to the throne was based in heredity, his right to it was by military conquest and therefore irrefutable.

Lastly, whether or not Elizabeth of York was legitimately born also has no bearing on the hereditary royal bloodline. Though queen consorts are usually of noble or royal blood, they are not always so and there is no English constitutional requirement that they be. Neither Anne Boleyn nor Jane Seymour were of (near) royal blood and neither were born to titled fathers, yet no one today disputes the right of each woman's child to the throne of England. (And even in the absence of the various Acts for the Succession, it is entirely probable that Jane's son Edward VI and Anne's daughter Elizabeth would have succeeded in their turn without significant resistance.)

Nikki said...

I agree about the Queen Consort not having to be of royal blood, I wondered why the documentary even suggested this! It's clear that Queen Consorts after Elizabeth of York weren't royal.

All of your points were the same ones I found on the internet when I googled the subject...the child of a married woman is legally the child of the husband, unless the husband denies paternity...even IF he was illegitimate, he won the right to the throne through battle. What I did not read anywhere was that Cecily was in France with Richard.

I know these types of things makes for good television (hello, the tudors!!) because it's very entertaining, but it's beyond me why they leave out the important stuff!

Anonymous said...

As a Hastings myself I would like to think it is true...wouldn't be the first time Royals covered up a scandal...

JKPryncss said...

Actually the majority of what is said here is true. To make a point even more, the current Queen has less royal blood in her than I do. I am a direct descendant of King Alpin of Scotland and if you trace that forward it goes to Queen Eleanor of Aquitane, King Henry I, King Henry the II and so on. Not to mention I am also related through another line to Queen Jane Seymour who was married to King Henry the VIII. The current queen is descendant from the women who King Henry had an affair with (who didnt he have one with.) When King Edward son of Queen Jane and Henry VIII)died at age the age of 19 with no heir, the ONLY other living heir of King Henry the VIII was the first born daughter of his mistress who had very little to NO royal blood. I have over 30 kings and queens in one bloodline alone!

fpb said...

I think it more interesting in terms of contemporary politics. That the claim only surfaced when Henry was neck-deep in manure proves nothing; OF COURSE, whether or not Henry was a bastard, any claim against him would not surface till he was no longer in the position to do very unpleasant things to the claimer. Above all, this would explain the infernal family politics of Henry's time: why his own brother Clarence would plot against him, why he himself would inflict the appalling and humiliating death he did on Clarence, and why, after he was dead, his other brother, Richard of Gloucester, saw fit to put an end to his whole line by murdering his sons in the Tower. Say what you will, such internecine hatreds between brothers are rare in English history, or indeed anywhere west of Turkey; the only two cases I can think of are the dreadful relations of Henry II and his sons, and, much later, the horrible treachery of James II's daughters against their father - and in that case there was religion involved. But if Richard believed that his brother was illegitimate, he might think it actually a good thing to rid the kingdom of his tainted bloodline.

Anonymous said...

Gee, why not, Kelly? Do you have reasons to think it isn't true beyond some odd attachment to some fairy tale? You never give a reason, so I am led to think you just have some weird emotional reason for denying it. I, personally, can't say which, but then, neither can you (probably).

Legitimacy is whatever you make it to be. In Japan, the emperors have adopted sons which have become legitimate heirs. In other countries, parliament or the Church can legitimate bastards. Hell, we don't even know who was legitimate with absolute certainty given the prevalence of extramarital affairs among royalty (no DNA tests back then). Legitimate is whatever sits on the thrown. Power makes legitimate. If I swap your baby with the king's at birth, then your biological son becomes heir. If I discredit the current king with fallacious proof, then the successor is whoever takes the thrown and spins history to make it work. You see, the myths and fables are for the maintenance of power by duping the ignorance masses. Those in power have no scruples. There are the rulers and the ruled.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is late but I really need to correct some points that JKPryncess has said.

The current Queen has the same amount, if not more royal blood in her than you do.Elizabeth II is also a direct descendant of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry I, Henry II and all the subsequent monarchs. She is also a descendant of the monarchs of Scotland.

Also, Jane Seymour was not royal and had even less royal blood than the "mistress" you are talking about, who I presume is Anne Boleyn. In fact Anne Boleyn was the best born of all of Henry VIII's English wives, and had Anne of York (who was a daughter of Edward IV, and therefore a princess) as her aunt by marriage. Her grandfather was the Duke of Norfolk and one of the premier peers of England and her Father was Viscount Rochford and later Earl of Wiltshire while Jane Seymour's father was a simple knight.

I do not know why you keep on insisting that Anne Boleyn was simply a mistress. Anne was married to the King and was crowned Queen, while Jane Seymour never was.

King Edward died at the age of 16, not 19. And when he died, Mary Tudor became Queen not Elizabeth Tudor!

And Elizabeth Tudor never married and had no children so the current Queen cannot be descended from her!

Jimmy Quigley-O'Brien said...

The last comment by May 04 2014 above has more or less done my head in, Elizabeth 1st died childless (fact)Maybe I have missed the Next in Line on another Blood Line. It would have been Great for my Home Town had Walter Raleigh Married Liz 1st, My home Town is YOUGHAL Co CORK Ireland. He lived in a house called Mertel Grove It's where he smoked the Tobacco and someone threw a Pail of Water over Him. Oh Well we did get "MOBY DICK" after all 1956 and all that.... xxx

TheBobcat said...

JKPryncss, you need to look up your history. The Windsors don't descend from Henry VIII at all; they descend from his sister, Margaret. Also, Edward VI was succeeded by his sister, Mary, who was not the child of a mistress; her mother was Catherine of Aragon, who was Henry's wife, long before Jane Seymour. Henry had children by mistresses but none of them ever succeeded to the throne as that was not allowed.
You say you have 10 kings in your bloodline? Elizabeth probably has far more than that

Anonymous said...

English common law, and American law does state "the child of a married woman is legally also the child of that woman's husband, unless the husband publicly challenges paternity". However, royal titles are an incorporeal hereditament passed by the legal notion of jus sanguinis, which means a right of blood. If Edward did not have "the blood" he could not put forward a claim, nor pass one either.