“#The White Princess,” which just premiered on the Starz Network, is one of those excellent dramas where the women get to wear cute clothes and the men get to sword fight as the struggle for political supremacy proceeds apace. The series, a sequel to “The White Queen,” starts after the conclusion of the Battle of Bosworth in England in the year of Our Lord 1485. The series, like most that make it to the big and small screens, does a little bit of violence to history.
Leaving aside the fact that women likely didn’t wield as much power as the series and its predecessor depicted, some changes were made from the historical record for dramatic purposes.
For one thing, it is very unlikely that Elizabeth of York was in love with her uncle, King #Richard Iii. Shakespeare offered the calumny that the King was intent on forcing his niece to marry him had he emerged victorious at Bosworth, but that was the Bard sucking up to the Tudors by depicting their ancient enemy as a monster. Very likely Richard would have married a foreign princess for political as well as dynastic reasons.
Elizabeth’s brothers, Edward and Richard, the “Princes in the Tower,” were murdered at some point after their father, King Edward IV, passed away. Shakespeare was pretty sure Richard III had the deed done. Others suspect Henry VII. Prince Richard was rumored to have escaped, and someone was claiming to be him was the figurehead of a Yorkist uprising early in Henry’s reign. But it was very unlikely that he was hiding out with big sister to be smuggled across the channel when Bosworth turned out the way it did..
Finally, Henry probably did not try to rape Elizabeth before they were married. History records that the marriage was as much a love match as it was a political alliance. Also, Henry, who ran his kingdom like an accountant to repair it from the ravaged of the dynastic wars, was not the sort of person to engage in rape and take, no matter what his mother may or may not have ordered him to do. Royals liked to have their wives fertile, but few if any put the question to the test before exchanging vows. Henry’s son, the far more famous Henry VIII, had all sorts of problems along the lines of getting an heir which changed the course of English history.
Still. “The White Princess” is a fun series, showing the political machinations of the English upper crust in a time before the well-trodden material that constitutes the reigns of Henry VIII and his great daughter, Elizabeth I. #Politics In England