The 15th century in England saw a series of battles among British noble families and royal relatives that ripped apart the fabric of English politics. As Henry VI was weak leader, two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet seized the opportunity for a bold and bloody familial power grab and, in doing so, reshaped the English monarchy. These tumultuous decades saw a rotating cast of kings, families divided, cousin against cousin, and fortunes made and lost.
Join Royal Oak as historian and educator Carol Ann Lloyd focuses on the key players in this tempestuous saga, including Henry VI, his wife Marguerite of Anjou, the father and son Duke of York team, the Kingmaker, Richard III, Margaret Beaufort and her relatives, and the first Tudor king. She also will explain how and why this time of civil war came to be known as the “Wars of the Roses.”
The Grey family was one of medieval England’s most important dynasties, serving the kings of England as sheriffs, barons and military leaders. Like many families, they were split by the Wars of the Roses, one man betraying Henry VI at the Battle of Northampton, whilst his cousin, Sir John Grey, died for Lancaster at the second battle of St Albans, leaving a widow, Elizabeth née Woodville, and two young sons, Thomas and Richard. Astonishingly, the widowed Elizabeth caught the eye of Edward IV and was catapulted to the throne as his wife. This gave her sons an important role after Edward s death. The Greys were considered rapacious, even by the standards of the time and the competing power grabs of the Greys with Richard, Duke of Gloucester led to Richard Greys summary execution when Gloucester became king. His brother, Thomas, vowed revenge and joined Henry Tudor in exile.
When Thomas Grey’s niece, Elizabeth of York, became queen, the family returned to court. Thomas married the greatest heiress in England, Cecily Bonville, their numerous children gained positions in the court of their cousin, Henry VIII, and his children Mary, and the Duke of Richmond. Mary. The 2nd Marquis was probably taught by Cardinal Wolsey but was a vigorous supporter of Henry VIII’s divorce from Katharine of Aragon. his son’s reckless involvement in Wyatt s rebellion ended in his own execution and that of his daughter, Lady Jane Grey, the ‘Nine Days Queen’. Weaving the lives of these men and women from a single family, often different allegiances, into a single narrative, provides a vivid picture of the English mediaeval and Tudor court, reflecting how the personal was always political, as individual relationships and rivalries for land, power and money drove national events.
Melita Thomas is the co-founder and editor of Tudor Times, a repository of information about Tudors and Stewarts in the period 1485-1625
Melita has loved history since being mesmerised by the BBC productions of ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Elizabeth R’, when she was a little girl. After that, she read everything she could get her hands on about this most fascinating of dynasties. Captivated by the story of the Lady Mary galloping to Framingham to set up her standard and fight for her rights, Melita began her first book about the queen when she was 9. The manuscript is probably still in the attic!
Whilst still pursuing a career in business, Melita took a course on writing biography, which led her and her business partner to the idea for Tudor Times, and gave her the inspiration for writing ‘The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary’. The research for this book led her to want to know more about the Tudors’ cousins, the Greys, who were prominent members of the court. The result was the House of Grey.
Currently, Melita is studying for a Master’s in Historical Research at the University of London, and beginning research for her third book.
In her spare time, Melita enjoys long distance walking. She is attempting to walk around the whole coast of Britain, and you can follow her progress here: https://mgctblog.com/