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 pre/prior contract

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whitehound
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PostSubject: pre/prior contract   Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:06 pm

I'm just putting this up as an FYI. Because Edward IV's alleged union with Eleanor Butler is described as a "pre-contract" many people (including me until I learned better) assume that this refers to a preliminary contract, i.e. a betrothal. But in fact what was being alleged was a *previous* contract - that is, a full marriage, which was still in force when he married Elizabeth Woodville.
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khafara

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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:10 pm

Thanks!
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Thibault

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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:32 am

whitehound wrote:
I'm just putting this up as an FYI.  Because Edward IV's alleged union with Eleanor Butler is described as a "pre-contract" many people (including me until I learned better) assume that this refers to a preliminary contract, i.e. a betrothal.  But in fact what was being alleged was a *previous* contract - that is, a full marriage, which was still in force when he married Elizabeth Woodville.

Yes - most people think of it as an 'engagement' that is why there is so much confusion and disbelief around the whole Eleanor Talbot story. I also believe that once someone had contracted an invalid marriage due to a precontract, they could not remedy the fact after the death of the first wife, by marrying the second one.

This is the case for E4 and EW as ET died in the late 1460s (I think) so many people seem to think that all E4 had to do was marry EW again and the princes who were born after ET died, would be legitimate. However this was not possible under canon law at the time.

I guess E4 could have appealed to the Pope and for the right payment, he might have been able to regularise his marriage with EW, but he didn't bother, probably because he thought he had a long life ahead of him and he was younger than Stillington anyway.
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whitehound
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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:29 am

Yes. Had Edward V been old enough to take command in his own right when his father died, then even had the matter of the pre-contract been raised it would probably have been quietly glossed over, and Edward IV would know that. But Parliament wouldn't want to be ruled by a child king who would be under the influence of the unpopular Woodville faction, especially if it was true that the Woodvilles looked like assassinating the Protector, so then the pre-contract became a way of excluding the Woodvilles and getting a more likely prospect onto the throne.
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Constantia

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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Sat Apr 26, 2014 10:35 am

I think the problem in this case is not that the first marriage was invalid (secret marriages were binding if there were no obstacles to the union) but that the second marriage was both bigamous (because Eleanor was still alive) and secret, providing no opportunity for a witness to step forward and object to the marriage on the grounds of bigamy ("speak now or forever hold your peace"). So, assuming that Edward really did marry Eleanor (and I believe that he did) there was no remedy for the invalid second marriage and no way to legitimize the children. However, the matter was never taken to an ecclesiastical court, which is why Henry's Parliament could reverse the situation simply by repealing and destroying Titulus Regius and all (but one) copies of that act of Parliament.

If I'm wrong, please correct me!
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khafara

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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:50 pm

One of the things that JA-H points out in his book Eleanor: The Secret Queen is that if Elizabeth Grey (neé Wydeville) had known about Edward's marriage to Eleanor Boteler (neé Talbot), she would have insisted on a very public marriage, so as to give her marriage more weight with ecclesiastic and other authorities.  

(It occurs to me that this might have been enough to make Edward, who really didn't want to force a confrontation with the Kingmaker just yet, forego marrying her at all.  Then again, Mistress Grey likely would have said "marry me and do it in public you dipwad or I'm telling everyone about you and Mistress Boteler".)

Another thing he mentions is that while widowed women (as Mistress Boteler was prior to marrying Edward) were free to write wills arranging for the disposal of their property after their deaths, married women were not, as that had to be approved by their husbands -- which would explain the rather complex methods Eleanor used to deal with her property when she felt death approaching.



Tamara
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Thibault

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PostSubject: Re: pre/prior contract   Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:44 am

whitehound wrote:
Yes.  Had Edward V been old enough to take command in his own right when his father died, then even had the matter of the pre-contract been raised it would probably have been quietly glossed over, and Edward IV would know that.  But Parliament wouldn't want to be ruled by a child king who would be under the influence of the unpopular Woodville faction, especially if it was true that the Woodvilles looked like assassinating the Protector, so then the pre-contract became a way of excluding the Woodvilles and getting a more likely prospect onto the throne.

You have summed it up in a nutshell. I think E4 believed he would live into relative old age - after all there were no viable Lancastrian claimants to challenge him - and his heir would have been a fully grown man. Stillington would probably have been dead, so who would have been around to even raise the idea of a previous marriage? Edward was a gambler, but in this particular case, he did not gamble well.
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