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 Richard, widows, and land grabs?

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phaecilia

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PostSubject: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:41 pm

Source:  Richard III; the road to Bosworth Field, by P.W. Hammond & Anne F. Sutton.  London:  Constable, c1985.

In Jan. 1469, Richard served on a commission that found Thomas Hungerford, among others, guilty of treason.  Richard was granted some of the Hungerford lands.  He made an agreement with Thomas' mother, Lady Hungerford, that allowed her to found a chantry, almshouse, and school.  This indenture of agreement is quoted on pp. 33-34.  

It appears generous.  Lady Hungerford agrees that Gloucester and his heirs will "have and enjoy" two properties:  1) the Castle and Manor of Farleigh; 2) Hungerford Court "without interruption."  Gloucester agrees for Lady Hungerford to "have and enjoy 12 manors in Wiltshire, the profits from 7 manors and 3 Hundreds, 7 manors in Cornwall.  He also agrees for feoffees to hold another 6 manors in Wiltshire and Dorset to pay for a chantry in Salisbury Cathedral as well as an almshouse and a schoolmaster in Heytesbury.  

I've never seen this agreement discussed anywhere except the road to Bosworth Field.

I didn't find Richard's agreement with Lady Hungerford in Kendall's Richard III.  He did briefly describe Richard's effort to show Edward IV how the Duke of Suffolk's retainers had robbed and damaged a lodge on the Pastons' Hellsdon manor.  This took place later in 1469.  Despite Richard's effort, Edward IV later told William Paston that he wouldn't support the Pastons' case against Suffolk.

I feel that Richard's 1469 actions should be considered when his so called land grabs from the countesses of Warwick and Oxford are criticized.  Was the generosity and idealism he demonstrated in 1469 diluted by his experiences in Burgundian exile and the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury?  How much influence did Richard's councellors have on his decisions at age 16 as opposed to ages 19-22?  Was he advised to be harder on the countesses of Warwick and Oxford or did his advisors just agree with changes in Richard's attitudes?  How did Edward IV's and Clarence's behavior influence Richard between 1469-1475?

Does Richard's generosity towards Hastings' widow tell impartial observers anything about him and his councellors in 1483?  Were they truly generous or cynical?

Has anyone found essays or books that compare all of these agreements?

Does anyone feel that consideration of councellors' advice and his brothers' influence should be part of future historical studies on Richard?

TIA!

phaecilia
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Thibault

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:17 pm

Horrox briefly mentions it, without detail, merely saying that Richard was the main beneficiary of the Hungerford Attainders. However, on p 168 of Richard III - A study in service, she says that Richard's possession of the Hungerford lands, and the fact that he would not relinquish them to Thomas's brother, Walter was a factor in Walter Hungerford's rebellion during Richard's reign.
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Constantia

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:42 pm

It wasn't Richard but Parliament and Edward IV who robbed the Countess of Warwick of her lands treating her as if she were dead. Admittedly, Edward wanted to benefit Richard, and Richard would have been more than human not to want the lands. But we need to consider that if they had not gone to him, they would have gone to George, and that both men were the countess's sons-in-law, so the land skipped her and went to her daughters (or rather, to their husbands, that being the law of the time), so they did not in this case go outside the family. Also, of course, Richard had Sir James Tyrell escort the countess from sanctuary to her home in Middleham, and despite Rous's inferences to the contrary, there is no evidence that he imprisoned or mistreated her. She must have left sanctuary willingly, and there is some indication that she spent what was now Richard's money extravagantly. In other words, unfair as the Parliament ruling was to the countess, Richard did what he could to ameliorate it. We need only contrast his treatment of the countess with that of Edward and possibly George to see that he was not motivated by greed or ambition. Nor, for that matter, was Edward, who simply needed to consolidate Richard's power in the North--though perhaps he had a personal grudge against the countess as well, perhaps considering her a partner in her husband's treason. I should mention that both Warwick and his brother Montague would have been attainted as traitors had it not been for Richard's request not to attaint them, which Edward honored for his "much loved" brother's sake.

Regarding the Countess of Oxford, we can't take depositions made some twenty years later at a time when the Earl of Oxford wanted his mother's lands back at face value. If she indeed shed tears, as claimed in some of the depositions, they might have been tears of gratitude at the young duke's generosity. I don't recall the details, but he agreed to pay for the education of at least one of her sons, and some other terms of the agreement were also generous if I'm not mistaken. I think David Baldwin has an explanation of this incident that makes more sense than the hostile treatment of more traditional historians, but I don't (yet) have access to my Kindle on this computer.

I don't know anything about the Hungerfords so can't comment on that.

I'm working from memory here, so feel free to correct any errors.
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Constantia

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:39 pm

Found the passage in Baldwin. He begins with the traditional version of events ("it has been suggested"), but then he writes:

Quote :
The ‘problem’ with these allegations is that they were all made twenty and more years later when Richard was long dead and the now restored Earl of Oxford wanted to confirm his right to his late mother’s properties. Oxford had recovered all his former possessions after the battle of Bosworth, but feared that if his mother had legally disposed of her assets he would face claims from those who had subsequently bought them. He argued that her actions were invalid because she had acted under duress, and petitioned Cardinal Morton, the Chancellor, to take depositions from six former (presumably hand-picked) deponents who would corroborate his story. Oxford had breezily claimed that Richard’s behaviour was ‘openly and notoriously known’ when he was first restored to his earldom, but by 1495 death had thinned the ranks of potential witnesses and memories were fading. He clearly thought it prudent to obtain formal, written testimony while there was still time. So did Richard behave particularly badly towards the Countess, or was he merely trying to protect his own interests? Elizabeth formally released her rights in her estates to him in deeds dated 9 January 1473, a transaction he afterwards claimed was ‘at the desire of the said countess, and by the advice of her council’. He undertook to allow her an annuity of 500 marks (£ 333 6s 8d) for life, to pay debts totalling £ 240, to provide a younger son studying for the priesthood with a benefice, and to honour bequests to her children, grandchildren and others in accordance with her wishes.

Baldwin, David (2012-05-02). Richard III (Kindle Locations 951-961). Amberley Publishing. Kindle Edition.  

It sounds to me as if Seward, Hicks, et al. have taken the sixteenth-century depositions at face value, ignoring the contemporary evidence indicating that he behaved quite courteously and generously under the circumstances. (Note: He didn't take her lands. They had been granted to him by Edward IV and Parliament. He need not have considered her interests at all, much less granted her an annuity and paid her debts!)
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Thibault

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:37 am

Horrox does mention the later Oxford legal case made under the Tudors and while reporting what was said, did comment (p 73) 'Although the depositions must be somewhat suspect, it is likely that the countess did feel herself under pressure to agree and it may be significant that her feoffees, after agreeing in principle to the transfer, then dragged their feet over finalising it and had to be sued in chancery by Gloucester, and, nominally, the countess.'

I think Baldwin probably based his view on Horrox, as what he says in the passage quoted in Constantia's post is very similar.

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Marie2

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Wed Oct 22, 2014 5:32 pm

It's all in the interpretation, isn't it? Hicks manages to come up with a very adverse interpretation of Richard's treatment of Lady Hungerford as well; personally I think he's being unreasonable but there you are. The same is true of the Countess of Oxford. The crux of the issue in her case is that Gloucester's questioning of her, and the deal over her lands, came at a time when her son was planning an invasion, and even the 1495 witnesses don't manage to conceal the fact that she was in communication with Oxford at the time in question. I also found a reference in the Calendar of Close Rolls to her having been brought before the royal council during the same period. My feeling therefore is that Richard was interviewing her in his capacity as Lord Constable because she had been lending financial support to her son's enterprise. This would explain  her evident arrest by him and the deal over her lands. It kept her out of prison and gave her sufficient to live on whilst stopping her financing her son's treason. Reading Hicks' article, I think he probably saw this too but it didn't suit him to point it out; instead, he claimed that, in being granted Oxford's lands, Richard had become the Countess's heir, and was simply being impatient, but this seems to be factually incorrect. So what was it all about? I can't understand why David Baldwin hasn't picked up on the link to Oxford's ongoing treason. To me it seems a no-brainer.
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Thibault

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PostSubject: Re: Richard, widows, and land grabs?   Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:19 am

I may be cynical, but I think that for certain traditionalist historians, to present Richard as the bloody tyrant seizing the crown, after what appears to be a blameless and loyal life prior to 1483, they need to show that he was a 'baddie' all the time - hence the desire to paint him as a calculating land-grabber and terrorisor of old ladies while Duke. It all goes to confirm their view of his actions after April 1483.
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