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Topic: The Sunne in Splendour - Book 1 Discussion

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Subject: The Sunne in Splendour - Book 1 Discussion
Date Posted: 3/30/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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This thread is for discussion of Book 1 of the novel.

Date Posted: 4/1/2010 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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OK, I'll be first and try not to give anything away.  The first thought that hit me other than the fact that this book is beautifully written is"how young everyone is when they are fighting all these battles etc."  I know the life expectancy was much lower then but shades of Alexander the Great!  You would feel like a total slacker if you hadn't led troops in a major battle by the ripe old age of 19 or so.  I just have such a hard time getting my "modern" brain around the concept. 

 

The next thing (please not too many wet noodle lashes) is Richard seems so good.  I totally admit most of my misspent youth was with all things theatrical and lots of Shakespeare etc so I had bought into the idea of him being a super villain as viewed by the victorious Tudor regime.  I've read one other "pro Richard" novel and wasn't too impressed by the case presented there (Richard as a poor depressed soul).  I'm sure if anyone can present a good case that Ms. Penman can.  We shall see...

Date Posted: 4/1/2010 10:41 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I was able to start TSIS last night, and I got about 30 pages into it.  So far, so good!  I'm relatively new to HF, and don't have much background in English history other than what I've read in the past few years I've been reading HF, so I haven't been conditioned for or against Richard.  LOL!  I'm going into it with a totally open mind!  I'm already in love with Edward (Ned) though! 

Date Posted: 4/1/2010 12:11 PM ET
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Ms. Penman endeared Richard to me right away by introducing him to me at such a young and impressionable age.

Page 72 in my book referenced a "gorget" (an arrow pierced Clifford's gorget). I was not familiar with this so I looked it up. Here is what I found:

A gorget originally was a steel or leather collar designed to protect the throat. It was a feature of older types of armour and intended to protect against swords and other non-projectile weapons. Later, particularly from the 18th century onwards, the gorget became primarily ornamental, serving only as a symbolic accessory on military uniforms.

Most Medieval versions of gorgets were simple neck protectors that were worn under the breastplate and backplate set. These neck plates supported the weight of the armour worn over it, and many were equipped with straps for attaching the heavier armour plates.

A gorget

Later, Renaissance gorgets were not worn with a breastplate but instead were worn over the clothing. Most gorgets of this period were beautifully etched, gilt, engraved, chased, embossed, or enamelled and probably very expensive.

Colonel George Washington wore a gorget as part of his uniform in the French and Indian War, which symbolized his commission as an officer in the Virginia Regiment.
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Cheryl, I noticed the youth, too, both in this book, and in the other medieval I'm reading right now (Gellis, Joanna, set in John's reigh.  Joanna's hubby is in a leadership position at age 20 in the beginning, and a bit later, her 17-year-old brother.) 

But when pondering it ... militaries are often quite young, including our own standing military.  In recent years, US has been using the state's national guards more, and those are filled with all age groups, but our standard national military units tend to be quite young.  Many times I've been astounded watching interviews with a commanding officer of troops in Kuwait/Afganistan/Iraq.  They can look SO young, yet they project such a strong sense of command, control, and utter confidence.  They are well trained, they are damn smart, and they know it.  They know what they are doing. 

Re: Richard's "goodness". I was not conditioned either way on Richard, and it doesn't strike me as "too good" at all.  (So far, anyway.) Penman was the first I'd ever read on the subject.  Prior to that, I was only vaguely aware that Richard had this horrible reputation based largely on Shakespeare, but I'd never even read that play or anything about him beyond the most brief of biographical information gleaned when researching the royal family tree.  So far, Richard's portrayal comes across to me as a very ordinary and plausible youngest son amoungst such a remarkable family and older brothers.  In such a political situation, you could see a large family either fracturing badly, or fostering a fierce loyalty, and Penman's take on fierce loyalty makes a lot of sense to me.  That picture "fits" with the actions and reactions of various members over the years. 

Re: gorget.  I've seen that picture of Washington a zillion times but I had no idea that was a gorget.  Never, ever would have connected the two.



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 12:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Very cool Sheila.  I had seen gorgets pictured in movies and paintings and had no idea what they were called.  Thank you so much!!

 

Sharla:  I certainly can't deny this is one remarkable family no matter how you portray them!!



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 3:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 11:14 PM ET
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The Battle of Towton gave me pause. I did a little more research:

The Battle of Towton took place on a snowy 29 March 1461 (Palm Sunday) on a plateau between the villages of Towton and Saxton in Yorkshire (about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of York and about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Tadcaster).

The battle was part of Wars of the Roses, fought between the Houses of York and Lancaster for control of the English throne. The battle was a decisive victory for the Yorkists. The Lancastrian army suffered heavy losses and ceased to exist as an effective fighting force.

Towton was the largest battle fought in Britain. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 80,000 soldiers fought in the battle, including 28 lords (almost half the peerage at that time), mainly on the Lancastrian side. One of the most commonly quoted figures is 42,000 for the Lancastrians and 36,000 for the Yorkists. All estimates for the battle agree that the Lancastrians started the battle with the larger force.

It is also regarded as the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.[1] Exact losses are a matter of continuing debate, and are extremely difficult to assess with any accuracy, however estimates of about 28,000[2] (perhaps more) casualties are frequently cited: such a figure would represent roughly 1% of the entire English population at the time.

 

Those casualties are staggering.



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 11:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 11:24 PM ET
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Possible spoiler, chapter 6, book 1

 

In chapter 6 of book 1 Edward mentions the Bill of Attainder. I was not sure what this was so I looked it up.

 

A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) is an act of the legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.

The word "attainder", meaning "taintedness", is part of English common law. Under English law, a criminal condemned for a serious crime, whether treason or felony (but not misdemeanor, which referred to less serious crimes), could be declared "attainted", meaning that his civil rights were nullified: he could no longer own property or pass property to his family by will or testament. His property could consequently revert to the Crown or to the mesne lord. Any peerage titles would also revert to the Crown. The convicted person would normally be punished by judicial execution as well?when a person committed a capital crime and was put to death for it, the property left behind escheated to the Crown or lord rather than being inherited by family. Attainder functioned more or less as the revocation of the feudal chain of privilege and all rights and properties thus granted.

The first use of attainder was in 1321 against the Earl of Winchester and the Earl of Gloucester, who both shared the name Hugh le Despenser (where both were attained, not for opposing the King, but for supporting the King) and the last in 1798 against Lord Edward FitzGerald for leading the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

 

Edward was absolutely brilliant regarding his actions with Somerset. What a way to gather support and unify the country. After the huge loss of life at Towton who would really want to continue warmongering.



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 11:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 11:33 PM ET
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Attainder, I've always known, since I first looked at our Constitution at ... 12 years old?  I wanted know why they were unconstitutional.

Changing thoughts ... you can see looking at the loss of peerage in the War of the Roses why military leadership stopped fighting WITH the forces.  Prior to that, killing such men on the battlefield was avoided as much as possible.  Their ransoms were worth far too much.  But with WOTR, such a long struggle with so many tenticles ... the revenge just never stopped.  Not until both families were wiped out, except for the illegitimate little side shoot of the Tudors, who did the final stamping of the Yorks. And then even they were gone a mere three generations later.



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 11:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2010 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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As I read farther in this book I find myself getting a little confused with names and titles so I am trying to set my brain straight with who is who.  Someone please correct me if I am mixed up here!  I don't have a geneology chart here at home so I am trying to do this by recall.

 

The House of Lancaster- Basically comes down from the Beaufort line (the illegitimate children of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford later made legitimate) this would be Henry IV (who had Richard II,who was the legitmate son of the Black Prince, executed), Henry V (who won Agincourt and wed Katherine Valois daughter of the King of France), Henry VI (who in our book is referred to as Henry of Lancaster and is considered mad) the son of Henry V and Katherine, and Henry VI's son, Eduoard or Edward whose mother is Marguerite of Anjou (correct?)

 

Then  you have the house of York which comes down from another one of the legitimate sons of Edward III (and I can't recall which son; is it Lionel or Thomas or neither?).  That's the main reason (broadly stated) why they have the wars with the House of Lancaster.  York is a legitimate line and they consider Lancaster from an illegitmate branch that supposedly swore not to seek the throne but did anyway.  (correct?)

 

Then I know the Tudors are in there somewhere, probably later on.  Were they not basing their claim to the throne from Katherine Valois, who after the death of Henry V marries a Welshman, Owain Tudor, and has a son Jasper?  Or is there something more to their claim that comes from the Welsh part of their heritage?  This is where I get fuzzy on details.  I know the royal Plantagent blood comes in later but I don't want to say anything more about that.

 

Any of you Plantagenet experts please help me out here and excuse the broad sweeping general statements.  I'm just trying to be sure my basic working facts are correct.  Thanks!!

Date Posted: 4/2/2010 3:06 PM ET
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You're a little confused. :)  The Lancaster line was John of Gaunt's LEGITIMATE line (John being Eward IIl's fourth son). The  Beauforts were John's illegitimate line through Katherine, a female decendant of which was married to the Tudors, who came from Katherine Valois' "marriage" with the Welshman.  So the Tudors are an illigitmate offshoot of the Lancaster line.  The Beauforts had been legitimized by Parliamenaryt Act retroactively, but with the stipulation that they did not carry a claim to the thrown.

The York line was decended through two of sons of Edward III.  The York title came down from Edmund, who was younger than John of Gaunt, and therefore, the LEGITIMATE Lancaster line would have superior claim to York EXCEPT that ... the catch ...  Edmund's son Richard (Earl of Cambridge) married Anne Mortimer, who was the great-granddaughter of Lionel, the third son of Edward III.  Lionel's only legitimate child was a daughter, Phillipa who married a Mortimer, and HER only surving issue was grandaugher Anne Mortimer (Anne had a brother, whose claim would have been superior to Anne's, except he died without issue). So Richard, Duke of York, claimed supremacy over the Lancaster line through his mother, Anne Mortimer.  But that was really a late claim, to trump that of Henry VI's son Edward.  Henry VI and Marguerite d'Anjou were without children for something like 10 years, and during that time, Richard Duke of York was next in line to the throne, simply through his grandfather Edmund.  There were no more legitimate male decendents (since Beauforts don't count).  He was IT.  Had Marguerite not had Edward, there may have been a bloodless transfer from the Lancaster line to the York line.   But Prince Edward's birth  threw a monkey wrench in that.  At that point, York's claim through Anne through Lionel becomes more important.

Oops, made a mistake above.  When I said "there were no more legitimate male decendants" ... that implied he was the last of Edward III's male decendents.  He wasn't.  He was the last male through any of the first 5 of Edward's sons, but there were more through his seventh (and last!) son Thomas.  (Of Edward's 7 sons, #2 and #6 died young, but the other five all left decendants.)  Buckingham's claim to the throne was through Thomas.



Last Edited on: 4/2/10 4:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 8
Date Posted: 4/2/2010 3:10 PM ET
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Edit.  Sharla has it!



Last Edited on: 4/2/10 3:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2010 9:27 PM ET
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Oh man, y'all are so knowledgable about this stuff.  I am woefully ignorant about this period of English history. I find myself constantly looking up words and referring back to a timeline I found online about  English Royalty.  The only other exposure I've had to this is Philippa Gregory's The White Queen (and I know she's not always historically accurate).  Its going to be fairly slow reading for me, but I'll try to keep up.

Date Posted: 4/3/2010 9:52 AM ET
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I'm guessing SKP wrote TSIS primarily from Paul Murray Kendall's biography, Richard the Third. At the time of its publication (mid-1950s), it was hailed as even-handed and objective. Today, it think it's mostly favorable and not as balanced as originally thought. In any event, Penman's portrayal of Richard is the Richard in Kendall's book.

Date Posted: 4/3/2010 10:14 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Thanks, Sharla.  I knew I was getting mixed up somewhere!