“The White Queen” has been out for a while, and I vaguely recall when it was first aired on Starz. It took me years to finally watch it and when I did, I was hooked. The historical aspect was a big draw for me, and the characters and the period itself were fascinating. The series was to be continued with The White Princess and The Spanish Princess. I consider these shows to be the prequels to The Tudors, a show that I have already covered on this blog. Now, we go back before the reign of Henry VIII.
The show opened with Elizabeth Woodville, widow and mother, waiting to meet the new King of England, Edward IV of York. Her husband, was a supporter and soldier for Lancaster, the recently deposed house and king, Henry VI. The first episode documents their growing love and secret marriage, which sparks animosity between Edward IV; his brother, George, the Duke of Clarence; and his stoutest supporter, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. This ill feeling persists and both men spark two rebellions against Edward. Richard, Duke of Gloucester and future Richard III, remains loyal and is definitely not painted as Shakespeare’s play portrayed him. While all events in the show are riveting, the most interesting scenes to watch are the ones that involve Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville. The White Queen, the Red Queen, and the King Maker’s Daughter. In that day, men believed they were the sole benefactors of history. Women learned a long time ago how to influence their lovers. A beautiful woman could rule an entire country if she had her husband wrapped around her little finger.
The concept of Elizabeth Woodville being an actual witch, which she was suspected of, added a supernatural element to the show. It gave her character more surety in what she did because she believed that she could influence people and situations to her advantage. Margaret Beaufort was a witch in her own way, but a fanatical witch. Everything she ever wanted, she said ‘it was God’s will.’ As a believer myself, there is nothing more annoying and insulting than hearing another believer use God as a means to attain their own ends. Margaret Beaufort was always the character I despised the most, regardless of what show it was. Anne Neville’s character development was a sweeping arc. She started off as a truly silly and rather foolish girl. At first, I thought she was slow. But, hardship forged a bitter woman, lashing out all she thought were her enemies.
All together, the three women had their desires and their schemes and men died for it. The War of Roses was one of the bloodiest periods in English History. The in-fighting was great and brother turned against brother. There were no neutral parties. You were either red for House Lancaster or white for House York. You either supported the ailing and insane Henry VI or the young and adventurous Edward IV. Elizabeth Woodville had been told that she was for House Lancaster; but she so easily switched sides to House York. She took what red was in her life and bleached it out to become a white rose.
And on that note, it’s been real!