Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Baker Rifle of 1806

Picture of the Baker Rifle of 1806, the third pattern of the rifle
Picture of the Baker Rifle of 1806, the third pattern of the rifle.

Rifles differ from flintlock muskets in that they possess a series of ridges along the barrel called Lands, separated by grooves. These gently twist as they go down the barrel and impart a spinning motion to a bullet after it has been fired, which stabilises its flight, giving longer range and greater accuracy. Rifles had been used for hunting for nearly a century, and the huntsmen had taken them off to war when they had been called up and created specialised troops such as Jagers, Chasseurs and Cacadores into the ranks of the infantry. American woodsmen had used them to good effect during the American War of Independence, and a British officer had developed a breech-loading mechanism. So why did it take another twenty years for the British Army to adopt a rifle? Colonel Patrick Ferguson had designed a breech-loading rifle in 1774 and submitted an order to manufacture 100 of them to arm a detachment during the American War of Independence. The rifles were used very effectively but Ferguson was wounded in 1777 and later killed, and so the main advocate for the use of these weapons was lost. General Howe had the weapons placed in storage and with the end of the war, further trials were largely abandoned. The early battles of the French Revolutionary War saw the prominent use of skirmishers and so the British Army looked to expand its units available to fight in dispersed order. It realised that at least a proportion of these troops ought to be armed with rifles and so in December 1797, Parliament authorised the formation of the 5th Battalion, 60th Regiment, to be recruited from European (mainly German) exiles who had experience with this sort of weapon. The Board of Ordnance (a separate department to the Army that looked at procuring the best weapons for the British Army but also raised and trained the artillery and looked after all the Navy's weapons) ordered some 5,000 rifled muskets from Prussia but were not very happy with the performance of these rifles as they were originally designed for hunting, were slow to reload and had to be cleaned every few shots. In addition, the rifles that were delivered were not of the same quality as those that had been tested - a number were unusable and others had a different bore size, a major logistical headache for an army on campaign. The Board therefore decided to procure an indigenous rifle, particularly as the Army was formed a new Rifle Corps.
In early 1800, the Board decided to conduct a series of trials on a number of rifle barrel designs as part of a competition to find a rifle for the British Army. The Board invited a number of leading gun makers to Woolwich on 4 February 1800 to trial their designs and while no accurate record exists of what happened (there is only an unsubstantiated account in Ezekiel Baker's Remarks on Rifle Guns), in March 1800, the Board gave Baker an order for a number of pattern rifles and barrels so they could assess a variety of designs and calibres. Ezekiel Baker was a former apprentice to Henry Nock and had worked at 24 Whitechapel Road, London for some twenty-five years. He already held Government contracts for smoothbore muskets and pistols as well as supplying the Honourable East India Company. He had become involved with Coote Manningham, who was one of those responsible for the setting up of the British Rifle Corps and this, along with his being friends with the Prince of Wales, led to the choice of his design and an order for 800 rifles. Baker's initial design was of similar dimensions as a standard infantry musket but was rejected by Manningham as being too heavy. He then provided Baker with a German Jager rifle as a pattern to follow and they then looked at the calibre. The standard infantry calibre of .75 (to simplify logistics) was accepted, as was a 32in barrel but design changes led to the barrel being shortened to 30in and the barrel diameter reduced to .653 to enable it to use cavalry carbine shot of .625 calibre and to bring the rifle's weight down to roughly the same as a 'Brown Bess'. Rifling consisted of firstly eight (for the .75 calibre rifle) and then seven (for the .625 calibre rifle) rectangular grooves with a twist that made a complete turn in ten feet and therefore a quarter turn in a 30in barrel, although some accounts state there were 3 groove and octagonal barrels as well as a three-quarter turn. The rifle had a simple folding backsight with the standard large lock mechanism (marked 'Tower' and 'G.R.' under a Crown, although later ones had 'Enfield' but these only saw service after Waterloo) having a swan-neck cock as fitted to the 'Brown Bess'. Like the German Jager rifles, it had a scrolled brass trigger guard to help ensure a firm grip and a raised cheek piece on the left-hand side of the butt. Like many rifles, it had a 'butt-trap' or patchbox where greased linen patches and tools could be stored. The lid of the patchbox was brass and hinged at the rear so it could be flipped up. The stocks were made of walnut and held the barrel with three flat, captive wedges.
The overall length of the rifle was some 45in with a weight of around 9lbs, not including the bayonet. Following the German style, the rifle could be fitted with a 24in bladed sword bayonet that attached via a metal bar just behind the muzzle. Although this weapon made the rifle quite awkward to handle, it is important to remember that as the rifle was around 12in shorter than most of the contemporary muskets then in use, a long bayonet was vital if the rifleman had to engage in close combat. It is important to remember that the Baker Rifle was not a hunting rifle, but a mass-produced military firearm that was designed to be reliable, relatively easy to load and maintain and one that was 'soldier proof'. The American Long Rifle was more graceful, had greater accuracy and was more economical in its use of both powder and ball but was easily broken and took longer to reload. After the rifle had entered service, a number of modifications were made and variations appeared.  A lighter and shorter carbine version for the cavalry was introduced and a number of volunteer associations procured their own models, including the Duke of Cumberland's Corps of Sharpshooters who ordered models with a 33in barrel in August 1803. As the war progressed, what could be termed a 'second' pattern of Baker Rifle emerged and was fitted with a 'Newland' lock that had a flat-faced ring neck cock. In 1806, a 'third' pattern was produced that included a 'pistol grip' style trigger guard and a smaller patchbox with a plain, rounded front. The lock plate was smaller, flat and had a steeped-down tail, raised semi-waterproof pan, a flat ring neck cock and even had a sliding safety bolt. With the introduction of a new pattern Short Land Pattern Flintlock Musket ('Brown Bess') in 1810 with a flat lock and ring necked cock, the Baker's lock followed suit with what turned out to be a 'fourth' pattern. It also featured a 'slit stock' - the stock had a slot cut in the underpart of the stock just over a quarter of an inch wide. This was done after Ezekiel Baker had seen reports of the ramrod jamming in the stock after the build-up of residue in the ramrod channel or when the wood warped after getting wet.
Not all the rifles issued to the British Army were Bakers. The original carbine version proved to be too long for mounted troops and so during 1803 and 1805 there were further trials to test a number of shorter models. This time, Baker faced serious competition from a number of other gun makers including Henry Nock, Thomas Gill and Durs Egg and especially as he moved away from the tried and tested quarter of a turn to a half turn. The Board of Ordnance therefore chose Egg's rifled carbine with a quarter turn the length of its 20in barrel. The demand for the Baker Rifle continued to grow beyond the original 800 weapons that were ordered. By 1810, some four battalions (two battalions from both the 95th and 60th Regiments) had been equipped, as well as several units of the King's German Legion, such as the Brunswick Oels. This was in addition tom various volunteer formations that chose to constitute themselves as rifle units and the East India Company who ordered its first consignment in 1802. Around 2000 rifles a year were made in the Birmingham and London workshops between 1804 and 1815. For that period, Birmingham alone produced some 14,695 completed rifles, 32,582 barrels and 37,338 rifle locks. Storage space became short and a number of militia units were issued with the Baker Rifle, including Shropshire (1810), Pembroke (1811) and Caernavon (1812). The rifle remained in service until the late 1830s and was gradually replaced by the Brunswick Rifle, although units in far-flung outposts of the Empire continued to use them until the early 1840s.

Map of Europe in 1812

Map of Europe in 1812, showing the almost complete control of the continent enjoyed by Napoleon.
Map of Europe in 1812, showing the almost complete control of the continent enjoyed by Napoleon. Areas marked in dark blue had been absorbed into France herself. French involvement of Spain was very limited.

Margaret of Anjou's Supposed Lovers

Leaving aside the question of the paternity of Edward of Lancaster (as we've seen, there's no proof that anyone other than Henry VI was the boy's father), what of the various men that popular historians have romantically linked with Margaret of Anjou?

As I should have made clear in the earlier version of the post, there were indeed contemporary rumors that Edward of Lancaster was a bastard and that Margaret was unfaithful to her husband--a ballad written by a Yorkist sympathizer refers to "fals heryres fostered," for instance, and Pope Pius II quoted Warwick as saying that Margaret and "those who defile the king's chamber" had taken over the government. The contemporary gossips, however, were reticent about naming names; modern writers have been less so.

Bertram Fields, for instance, in his book Royal Blood, a defense of Richard III, baldly asserts that Margaret "had been known for years to have dallied with her favorites, notably the dukes of Suffolk and Somerset." Like too many admirers of Richard III, Fields, while bemoaning the various myths that have grown up around that king, is quite content to perpetuate myths about other historical figures. The claim that Margaret and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, were lovers was not made until the sixteenth century, and even then only in a throwaway remark by the chronicler Edward Hall that Suffolk was "the queen's darling." It was Shakespeare, not contemporaries of Margaret and Suffolk, who gave us the story of a full-blown love affair between Suffolk and Margaret.

As for the Duke of Somerset, there were three such dukes associated with Margaret: Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (died 1455) and his sons Henry (died 1464) and Edmund (died 1471). Though Paul Murray Kendall and others have stated that the elder Edmund was suspected of fathering Margaret's child, I have yet to find any contemporary English source alleging that he and Margaret were lovers--although in his youth, Edmund was linked romantically with the widowed Catherine of Valois, Henry V's queen. Hall states that when Somerset was arrested in 1453, he was in Margaret's great chamber; assuming that this noncontemporary account is true, it's notable that Somerset was not said to have been in Margaret's bedchamber. Margaret did grant the elder Somerset an annuity of 100 marks in 1451. It is recorded as having been paid at Michaelmas 1453, at which time it was noted that it was being paid for past and future services as well as "for the great good will and kindness that he will show [her] in her urgent affairs." Helen Maurer has suggested that the "urgent affairs" referred to Henry's recent mental breakdown, which would make sense. There is no reason, however, to assume that the annuity was prompted by a love affair.

The elder Edmund was killed at St. Albans in 1455; his eldest son, Henry, took up the family dukedom and the Lancastrian cause. Henry Beaufort is linked suggestively with Margaret in one contemporary rumor: on March 15, 1461, Prospero di Camulio, Milanese Ambassador in France, wrote from Brussels to Cicho Symonete, Secretary to the Duke of Milan: "They say here that the Queen of England, after the king had abdicated in favour of his son, gave the king poison. At least he has known how to die, if he did not know what to do else. It is said that the queen will unite with the Duke of Somerset. However these are rumours in which I do not repose much confidence." Henry VI, of course, had not abdicated in favor of his son, nor had he been poisoned. The rumor that Margaret intended to "unite" with Somerset, then, should inspire no more confidence in us than it did in Camulio. I do, however, confess to finding it plausible that this Somerset could have been Margaret's lover--he was young, handsome, and charismatic and had done her the great service of defeating the Duke of York at Wakefield--but there is no evidence that he actually did play such a role in Margaret's life.

Henry Beaufort was executed at Hexham in 1464. (Being a Beaufort during this period did not auger well for one's future.) Late in that year, his younger brothers, Edmund and John, joined Margaret of Anjou in exile in France. There is no evidence that either of these men, or any of the other men who shared Margaret's exile, were romantically involved with her. Indeed, the younger Beauforts and the Duke of Exeter, who was also exiled abroad, spent most of their exile in the service of the Duke of Burgundy, far away from Koeur Castle in France, where Margaret was lodged.

Another man who occasionally is named by modern writers as Margaret's lover (and a possible father of Edward of Lancaster) is James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire; Kendall, for instance, claims that he was rumored to be the prince's father, though he doesn't cite a source for his assertion. Wiltshire, who was executed after the Battle of Towton, was the royal treasurer of the Lancastrian government and was particularly disliked by the Yorkists, but there is nothing to indicate that he was unusually close to Margaret. I have found no contemporary allegation that he and Margaret were lovers.

Philippe Erlanger, a French writer who wrote a very fanciful biography of Margaret, patriotically hinted that Pierre de Breze, Seneschal of Normandy, was Margaret's lover, and he even attributed Henry Beaufort's brief defection to Edward IV as having been prompted by jealousy over Margaret's intimacy with Breze. The latter, who was twenty years Margaret's senior, lent her military assistance and traveled with her in the early 1460's, but he had been closely associated with Margaret's family for decades and was likely motivated by those ties rather than any carnal passion. If Margaret was suspected of having an affair with Pierre during this time, it seems odd that Edward IV's government failed to exploit the propaganda possibilities that such a relationship presented.

Proving a negative is notoriously difficult, and it can't be shown that Margaret was not having sexual intercourse with any of these men or with anyone else besides her husband. (Contrary to one historical novelist's assertion, however, Suffolk can be positively eliminated as a possible father of Edward of Lancaster, having been murdered over three years before the boy was born.) As it hasn't been proven either, however, that Margaret was having an affair with any of these men, confident assertions like that of Fields quoted above should have no place in nonfiction unless supported by contemporary evidence.

Margaret of Anjou (b. 1430 - d. 1482)

Margaret of Anjou was one of the major players in the Wars of the Roses. She often led the Lancastrian forces during the wars and dictated grand strategy. She battled her arch enemy Richard, duke of York over the royal succession and unsuccessful tried to place her son, Edward, on the throne.  Daughter of Rene of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, she became queen of England by marrying King Henry VI in 1445.  At the time, England 's possessions in France had been almost lost as the Hundred Years War had finally come to an end in 1452. This loss may have brought about the first sign of insanity in her husband in 1453. What this illness was is not clear, but it seems that it manifested itself into a form of paralysis.
When Henry was incapacitated, control of the country was taken by Richard, duke of York. Richard was Henry’s worst enemy. Margaret had tried to get control and become regent, but she was defeated by Richard. The next year Henry recovered and clashed with Richard over who would rule England thus starting the “Wars of the Roses.”  Basically, the Wars of the Roses were a series of battles between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.  The name “Wars of the Roses” came the red rose was worn by those of Lancaster and the white rose was worn by those of York . On the side of the House of Lancaster were Henry VI, Margaret, and those who supported Henry. The House of York consisted of Richard, duke of York , who spent the later part of his life attempting to acquire the throne for his family. He served for Henry VI as both Lieutenant of France and Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1450, he returned to England to oppose the duke of Somerset , one of Henry's closest advisors. Richard had 3 sons, 2 of which went on to become kings:  Edward IV, Richard III. Richard died in 1460 at the battle of Wakefield .
At the battle of Northampton in 1460, the Yorkist captured Henry.  By 1461, he lost the throne to Richard's son Edward IV. Henry VI was captured by Edward, Richard’s son, in 1460 and sent to the tower of London where he was murdered on May 21, 1471. At Tewkesbury in 1471, her son (Edward, Prince of Wales) was defeated and killed and she was imprisoned. She was eventually ransomed by Louis of France in exchange for her French lands.
Although Margaret’s side ultimately lost the Wars of the Roses leaving her to live her last years in poverty, she was an amazing woman. She was involved with the troops, though not extensively. She had powerful influence over her husband and she was extremely determined. Margaret was a very intelligent woman and used it to her advantage. She also knew how to play political games, as seen by her stacking of the Parliament. Even though Margaret is not particularly well-known, she made an impact on history with her relentless nature during the Medieval era.

Annotated Bibliography

Abbott, Jacob. History of Margaret of Anjou , Queen of Henry VI of England. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishing, 1871.
The thesis of this source is that Margaret of Anjou was a heroine; not a heroine of romance and fiction, but of stern and terrible reality. The author wanted to prove that her life was a series of military exploits, attended with danger and suffering. It includes references to the Houses of York and Lancaster; Manners and Customs of the Time; King Henry VI; Margaret's Father and Mother; Royal Courtship; The Wedding, and the Reception in England , along with countless other topics other topics. This book is an excellent source and the most extensive (at 306 pages) that I found in my research on Margaret.
Gormley, Larry. “Wars of the Roses.” (2005) <> (22 December 2005). This page is a very well-written timeline of the Wars of the Roses. It provides links to show who was involved in the wars, as well as a map showing the battles. It also has links to definitions, such as civil war. It also has a link to a page called “Origins of the Wars of the Roses,” which is also very helpful in research.
Griffiths, Ralph A. The Reign of King Henry VI.  Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998.
This extensive volume about King Henry VI covers many aspects of Henry’s life, including his marriage to Margaret of Anjou . The marriage took place in 1445 and Margaret’s character seems to have complemented because she was prepared to make decisions and show leadership, whereas he was content to be led by her. In this way, Margaret proved a more competent ruler than Henry ever was, even though she was only sixteen at that time. This source shows how the policies of Henry and Margaret affected the world around them. Although it is very lengthy, it is worth looking at if one is seriously interested in the affairs of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou.
Jansen, Sharon L. The Monstrous Regiment of Women: Female Rulers in Early Modern Europe. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
This book focuses on female rulers. Jansen mentions Margaret of Anjou and describes how Shakespeare called her the she-wolf of France . She goes through and describes the actions that Margaret took while she was queen. She is critical of Margaret although she does not appear bias because of her concentration on factual information. This source would be a good reference for scholarly work because of its citations and factual information. She also discusses the War of the Roses, which is an important event in Margaret’s life.Magnusson, Magnus. Scotland : The Story of a Nation. New York : Grove Press, 2000.
This source focuses more on the kings of the time than Margaret of Anjou. However, it does make specific references to Margaret, especially her political connections to Scotland . In one instance, Magnusson talks about her travels to France and her military actions. He also states that she resided in Scotland several times during her life. The book is a newer source, so it is easier to access. It has lots of factual information but it is limited about Henry VI and Margaret.
Mauer, Helen." Margaret of Anjou ” Richard III Society, American Branch (2001) <> (22 December 2005).
This article is helpful because it gives an alternate perspective on the War of Roses and denounces accusations about Margaret, such as her adultery and her role in the battle of Wakefield . The article argues that these accusations led to a view of Margaret as a political actor that is not so far removed. The article focuses on specific events in Margaret’s life and is useful to provide background information.

Perot, Ruth S. The Red Queen: Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses. Bloomington , IN : Authorhouse, 2000. 
This source portrays Margaret's career in England . It is a somewhat lengthy source; however, a lot of the details of Margaret’s life are left to the imagination. It portrays Margaret as a virtuous woman who was tempted by many men. This calls to question her adultery. This source says that she was not adulterous; rather, she was the one who resisted having an affair. This source is more of a narrative than a scholarly source, but it could be used as background information for research.
“Queen Margaret of Anjou .” Tripod Website. <> (22 December 2005).
This source is mostly factual and biographical information about Margaret of Anjou. Since it gives no author or citation, it should not be used for scholarly research. It does give insight into Margaret’s life and focuses on her affairs with her husband, King Henry VI.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Louisiana Purchase, 1803

MILESTONES: 1801-1829

The Louisiana Purchase refers to the 530,000,000 acres of territory in North America that the United Statespurchased from France in 1803 for US $15 million.
The Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase
As the United States spread across the Appalachians, the Mississippi River became increasingly important as a conduit for the produce of America's West (which at that time refered to the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi). Since 1762, Spain had owned the territory of Louisiana, which included 828,000 square miles, and which now makes up all or part of fifteen separate states between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Friction between Spain and the United States over the right to navigate the Mississippi and the right for Americans to transfer their goods to ocean-going vessels at New Orleans had been resolved by thePinckney treaty of 1795. With the Pinckney treaty in place and the weak Spanish empire in control of Louisiana, American statesmen felt comfortable that the United States' westward expansion would not be restricted in the long run.
This situation was threatened by Napoleon Bonaparte's plans to revive the French empire in the New World. He planned to recapture the valuable sugar colony of St. Domingue from a slave rebellion, and then use Louisiana as the granary for his empire. France acquired Louisiana from Spain in 1800 and took possession in 1802, sending a large French army to St. Domingue and preparing to send another to New Orleans. Westerners became very apprehensive about having the more-powerful French in control of New Orleans; President Thomas Jefferson noted, "There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans."
James Monroe
James Monroe
In addition to making military preparations for a conflict in the Mississippi Valley, Jefferson sent James Monroe to join Robert Livingston in France to try to purchase New Orleans and West Florida for as much as $10 million. Failing that, they were to attempt to create a military alliance with England. Meanwhile, the French army in St. Domingue was being decimated by yellow fever, and war between France and England still threatened. Napoleon decided to give up his plans for Louisiana, and offered a suprised Monroe and Livingston the entire territory of Louisiana for $15 million. Although this far exceeded their instructions, they agreed.
When news of the sale reached the United States, the West was elated. President Jefferson, however, was in a quandary. He had always advocated strict adherence to the letter of the Constitution, yet there was no provision empowering him to purchase territory. Given the public support for the purchase and the obvious value of Louisiana to the future growth of the United States, however, Jefferson decided to ignore the legalistic interpretation of the Constitution and forgo the passage of a Constitutional amendment to validate the purchase. This decision contributed to the principle of implied powers of the federal government.

    Napoleonic Wars and the United States, 1803-1815

    MILESTONES: 1801-1829

    The Napoleonic Wars continued the Wars of the French Revolution. Great Britain and France fought for European supremacy, and treated weaker powers heavy-handedly. The United States attempted to remain neutral during the Napoleonic period, but eventually became embroiled in the European conflicts, leading to the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
    The Napoleonic Wars
    The Napoleonic Wars
    Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799 after overthrowing the French revolutionary government. During this time, U.S. and French negotiators were concluding negotiations to end the Quasi-War with France. In 1802, Napoleon ended ten years of warfare with Great Britain under the Peace of Amiens. He used this opportunity to attempt to crush the Haitian Revolution, but the army he sent met with defeat. Napoleon had also re-obtained the North American province of Louisiana from Spain in 1800. However, the loss of Haiti made Louisiana strategically undesirable, and with war again on the horizon with Great Britain, Napoleon was willing to agree to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
    As expected, Britain declared war on France in 1803, and would remain at war for over a decade. During this period of war, Napoleon and British leaders concentrated on European affairs, but the conflict spilled over into the Atlantic. From 1803 to 1806, the United States succeeded in remaining neutral, but suffered from impressment, British seizure of British-born naturalized U.S. citizens into the British navy. President Thomas Jefferson sent William Pinkney and James Monroe to negotiate a treaty that would halt the impressment of American sailors, but when the signed treaty came back without any British concessions on the impressment issue, Jefferson did not pass it on to the Senate for ratification.
    Napoleon Bonarparte
    Napoleon Bonarparte
    In 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree, which forbade trade with Britain, and the British Government responded the next year with Orders in Council, which instituted a blockade of French-controlled Europe, and authorized the British navy to seize ships violating the blockade. Napoleon responded with further trade restrictions in the Milan Decree of 1807.
    U.S. relations with Great Britain became increasingly rocky during this period. On June 22, 1807, the H.M.S.Leopard bombarded and forcibly boarded the U.S.S. Chesapeake off Norfolk, Virginia in search of British navy deserters. President Jefferson responded with an embargo on all foreign trade in an effort to weaken the British economy. The embargo was extremely unpopular in New England, where the economy was heavily dependent on trade with Britain. Moreover, the British economy was not strongly affected by the embargo, which proved difficult to enforce. In early 1809, in one of his final acts as president, Jefferson replaced the embargo with the Non-Intercourse Act, which allowed trade with other nations except Britain and France. This act also proved virtually impossible to enforce.
    James Madison
    James Madison
    Jefferson’s successor, President James Madison, confronted a dilemma—to continue with the ineffective Non-Intercourse Act was effectively to submit to British terms of trade since the British navy controlled the Atlantic. Madison was assisted by the passage in 1810 of Nathaniel Macon’s Bill No. 2, which offered Britain and France the option of ceasing their seizure of U.S. merchant ships in return for U.S. participation in their trade bloc. Napoleon was the first to offer concessions, which Madison publicly accepted at face value despite his private skepticism. In doing so, Madison pushed the United States closer to war with Britain.
    During this period, Madison also had to address a problem created by Secretary of State, Robert Smith, who had personally stated to the British minister his pro-British sympathies. When Madison confronted Smith and offered him a graceful departure as U.S. Minister to Russia, Smith appeared to accept his offer, and then leaked cabinet papers as part of a smear campaign against President Madison. U.S. diplomat Joel Barlow published a reply and swung public opinion against Smith, who resigned on April 1, 1811.
    Relations with Great Britain continued to deteriorate. A U.S. Navy ship mistook a much smaller British ship, the HMS Little Belt, for a British Navy ship that had impressed American sailors and fired upon it. Consequently, Thomas Foster, British Minister to the United States, stated that Britain would not offer any compensation for the 1807 Chesapeake incident. Foster also informed Madison that the British Government would not revoke the Orders in Council. By the spring of 1812, Madison had decided upon war with Great Britain—although he also considered declaring war on France as well. Congress passed a declaration of war on June 17, which Madison signed the next day. The war continued into 1815, although diplomats signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 23, 1814.
    The Napoleonic Wars marked a period of U.S. weakness in the face of British power. However, in the postwar period, British policies began to soften, leading to the Rush-Bagot agreement and the Convention of 1818.

    Margaret of Anjou Facts

    Margaret of Anjou
    Known for: Queen Consort of Henry VI of England, figure in the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years' War, character in four plays by William Shakespeare
    Dates: March 23, 1429 - August 25, 1482
    Also known as: Queen Margaret


    Father: Rene (Reignier), "Le Bon Roi Rene," Count of Anjou, later Count of Provence and King of Naples and Sicily, titular King of Jerusalem. His sister Marie d'Anjou was the Queen Consort of Charles VII of France
    Mother: Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine

    Margaret of Anjou Biography:

    Margaret of Anjou was raised in the chaos of a family feud between her father and her father's uncle in which her father was for some years imprisoned. Her mother, Duchess of Lorraine in her own right, was well-educated for her time, and since Margaret spent much of her childhood in her mother's company, and that of her father's mother, Yolande of Aragon, Margaret was certainly well-educated as well.
    On April 23, 1445, Margaret of Anjou married Henry VI of England. Her marriage to Henry was arranged by William de la Pole, later duke of Suffolk, part of the Lancastrian party in the Wars of the Roses; the marriage defeated plans by the House of York to find a bride for Henry. The King of France negotiated for Margaret's marriage as part of the Truce of Tours, which gave control of Anjou back to France provided for peace between England and France, temporarily suspending the fighting known later as the Hundred Years' War. Margaret was crowned at Westminster Abbey.
    In 1448, Margaret founded Queen's College, Cambridge. She played a significant role in her husband's reign, responsible for raising taxes and for match-making among the aristocracy.
    Henry had inherited his crown when he was an infant, King of England and claiming kingship of France by inheritance. The French Dauphin, Charles, was crowned as Charles VII with the aid ofJoan of Arc in 1429. and Henry had lost most of France by 1453. During Henry's youth he had been educated and raised by Lancastrians while the Duke of York, Henry's uncle, held the power as Protector.
    In 1453, Henry was taken ill with what has usually been described as a bout of insanity; Richard, Duke of York, again became Protector. But Margaret of Anjou gave birth to a son, Edward (October 13, 1451), and the Duke of York was no longer the heir to the throne. Rumors later surfaced -- useful to the Yorkists -- that Henry was unable to father a child and that Margaret's child must be illegitimate.
    After Henry recovered, in 1454, Margaret became actively involved in the Lancastrian politics, defending her son's claim as the rightful heir. Between the different claims to the succession, and the scandal of Margaret's active role in leadership, the Wars of the Roses began at the battle of St. Albans, 1455.
    Margaret played a very active role in the struggle. She outlawed the Yorkist leaders in 1459, refusing recognition of York as Henry's heir. In 1460, York was killed. His son Edward, now Duke of York and later Edward IV, allied with Richard Neville, Warwick, as leaders of the Yorkist party.
    In 1461, Margaret and the Lancastrians were defeated at Towton. Edward VI, son of the late Richard, Duke of York, became King. Margaret, Henry, and their son went to Scotland; Margaret went on to France and helped arrange for French support for an invasion of England. The forces failed in 1463. Henry was captured and sent to the Tower in 1465.
    Warwick, called "Kingmaker," helped Edward IV in his initial victory over Henry VI. Falling out with Edward, Warwick changed sides, and supported Margaret in her cause to restore Henry VI to the throne, which they succeeded in doing in 1470. Warwick's daughter Isabella Neville was married to George, Duke of Clarence, son of the late Richard, Duke of York. Clarence was the brother of Edward IV and also brother of the next king, Richard III. In 1470, Warwick married (or perhaps formally betrothed) his second daughter, Anne Neville, to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Margaret and Henry VI.
    Margaret returned to England in April, 1471, and on the same day, Warwick was killed at Barnet. In May, 1471, Margaret and her supporters were defeated at the battle of Tewkesbury. Margaret and her son were taken prisoner. Her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was killed. Her husband, Henry VI, died in the Tower of London, presumably murdered.
    Margaret of Anjou was imprisoned in England for five years. In 1476, the King of France paid a ransom to England for her, and she returned to France. She lived in poverty until her death in 1482 in Anjou.

    Margaret of Anjou in Fiction

    Shakespeare's Margaret of Anjou: Called Margaret and later Queen Margaret, Margaret of Anjou is a character in four plays, Henry VI Parts 1-3 and in Richard III. Shakespeare compresses and changes events because his sources are incorrect, or for the sake of the literary plot, so Margaret's representation in Shakespeare is more iconic than historical. Margaret, for instance, was nowhere near Edward IV at the time that Shakespeare has her cursing the various Yorkists. She was in Paris from 1476 until her death in 1482. When she curses Elizabeth to suffer as Margaret suffered, by losing a husband and son, she leaves out that she (Margaret) was involved as well in the deaths of the father of Edward IV and Richard III. Shakespeare's audience may well have remembered those facts, however, which would make more strongly what seems to be Shakespeare's point: the repetitive pattern of murders between the related families of the houses of York and Lancaster.
    Priory of Sion: Margaret's father Rene was allegedly the ninth Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, an organization popularized by literature such as The DaVinci Code. The organization's existence is generally dismissed by historians as based on forged evidence.


    Margaret of Anjou, the daughter of Duke Rene` I of Anjou (king of Naples and Sicily), and Isabella of Lorraine, was born and educated in France. She was married to King Henry VI in April of 1445 when Margaret was only 15 and Henry was 23. Because Margaret was a native of France, and Henry of England, their marriage was arranged as part of a truce in The Hundred Years' War between these two countries.

    Margaret was a beautiful, strong-minded, determined, and educated young woman, although often vengeful. Some also say that she was uppity, and cared little, if any at all, for the less fortunate. Her husband, King Henry VI, was weak and ineffectual throughout his reign, as he suffered bouts of insanity caused by a mental illness he might have inherited from his French grandfather. Margaret soon dominated her husband's political affairs, which some people thought were not her place to concern herself with.

    When Margaret married Henry and took up his political burden, she became a key member in his party, the Lancastrian party. She bitterly opposed her husband's political enemy, Richard, Duke of York. King Henry suffered a bout of insanity in the summer of 1453, and Margaret and Richard struggled during the winter of 1453/54 to be declared regent during Henry's illness. Then, on April 3, 1454, Richard was declared regent. It was also about this time, in 1453, that Margaret gave birth to her son, Prince Edward. Perhaps it could be assumed or supposed that the siding of Parliament with Richard for the regency had something to do with Margaret's pregnancy; once again, reminding them of Margaret's true female, recessive social expectation, versus her actual domination of Henry's political affairs that many perceived as improper for a queen. Fortunately for Margaret, Henry recovered around Christmas of that year, and Richard was ousted from power. The Duke of York, along with his allies, left London in disgust.

    Although most people were glad to see the king recover from his illness, they were disappointed to see the Duke of York leave; after all, the Duke of York was obviously more capable of ruling than King Henry VI. Margaret also hated Richard for their struggle for the regency; she despised him even more for winning. These tensions exploded in armed conflict at the Battle of St. Albans on May 1, 1455. King Henry suffered a wound to the neck and many of his servants were killed. Henry was captured by the Yorkists and taken back to London. 
    In 1459, Margaret outlawed the Yorkist leaders, and in December 1460, she killed Richard, the Duke of York, and vengefully displayed his head, adorned with a paper crown, outside of York.

    On February 3, 1461, Edward IV, son of the Duke of York, defeated the Lancastrian forces at Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. Margaret and her son, Prince Edward, recruited a large army, and then on February 17, 1461, they defeated the Yorkists at the second Battle of St. Albans. Margaret of Anjou freed her husband. However, Edward IV usurped the throne on March 4 and defeated Margaret's army at the Battle of Towton, Yorkshire, on March 29. It was then that Margaret's small family of three fled to Scotland.

    Later, in France in 1570, Margaret became reunited with Warwick, who was her former Yorkist enemy. However, Margaret was in for a surprise. Warwick was actually planning to overthrow Edward IV and restore Lancastrian Henry VI to the throne. Margaret, undoubtedly suspicious, didn't want him for an ally, but her desire to restore Lancastrian authority was immense, so she reluctantly agreed to his help. Warwick's plan was successfully executed in October 1470. However, Margaret didn't return to England until April 14, 1471 -- the same day that Warwick was killed in battle against Edward IV. Margaret was defeated at Tewkesbury in May by Edward IV, and her son was killed. Shortly after, her husband was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was ultimately killed by order of Edward IV. Margaret remained in custody in England until she was ransomed by the French king Louis XI in 1475. She then returned to France, where she spent her last years in poverty. She died in 1482 and was buried in Angers Cathedral at Chateau Dampiere.

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    From the Author: Susan Higgenbotham

    margaret headermargaret of anjou

    (The following is a slightly revised blog post I did on Margaret of Anjou, the subject of my novel in progress, 
    The Queen of Last Hopes
    . For more pieces about her and a picture gallery, see the links at the bottom of the page.)

    Margaret of Anjou, queen to the unfortunate Henry VI, has surely been one of the most maligned English queens. She's regularly portrayed as an adulteress and a vengeful harpy. One historical novel even has her repeatedly trying to murder her daughter-in-law, Anne Neville, though I never quite figured out why. (I'm not sure the author knew either.)

    A set piece in many a Wars of the Roses novel, even some recent ones where the authors should have known better, involves cruel Margaret ordering immediately after the Battle of Wakefield that the severed heads of the Duke of York and his teenage son, the Earl of Rutland, be displayed and the Duke's head be garnished with a
    paper crown. In fact, Margaret was not at the Battle of Wakefield; she was in Scotland at the time. There's even been considerable doubt cast as to the extent of the atrocities supposedly committed by her troops.

    Margaret's position is surely deserving of more sympathy than she has received. Criticized at first for her failure to conceive a child, when she finally did become pregnant, her enemies accused her of adultery. There's simply
    no proof that she had sexual relations with any man but her husband.) During her pregnancy, her husband lost his reason; eventually, the loss of his crown followed. Believing that the throne of England was her son's birthright, she fought for it until his death at the Battle of Tewkesbury. She was brought to London as a prisoner, only to have her husband murdered the night of her arrival. No longer regarded as a threat by the Yorkists,
    only as a financial burden, she was finally sent back to France, where she died in obscurity.

    Margaret is frequently compared to an earlier French-born Queen of England, Isabella of France, and the traditionally negative portrayal of each of them has often been ascribed to misogyny and xenophobia. Both women, indeed, have recently benefited from recent interest in medieval women and medieval queens and have attracted some sympathy from historians, female and male alike. Yet popular culture has lagged behind, for while Isabella has been portrayed sympathetically by a number of novelists, especially female ones, Margaret of Anjou has met a quite different fate at their hands. She's frequently little more than a cardboard villain, and even when she's given some semblance of depth, the myths such as her presence at the Battle of Wakefield are trotted out. (Ironically, this portrayal of Margaret, which owes so much to Shakespeare, is often perpetuated by the very same novelists who decry the Bard's portrayal of Richard III.)

    Strangely, Isabella, an adulteress who was disloyal to her husband and even to her own son, has attracted defenders because of those very facts. They attribute her adultery as being the natural reaction of a wronged
    wife and her deposition of her husband as being a commendable reaction against royal tyranny. Yet the loyalty
    of Margaret to her husband and to her son is depicted as the power-mad reaction of a vengeful woman. Evidently her modern-day detractors feel that she should have settled back and worked on tapestries while her son was being deprived of his crown.

    So why not spare Margaret of Anjou a little kindness for a change? When she arrived in England as a
    fifteen-year-old in 1445, she might well have hoped to have been a traditional queen, smiling at her husband's side, doing good works, and procuring favors for her subjects. Instead, with an incapacitated husband and competing claims to the throne, she found herself thrust into a situation that had no easy solutions, either for
    the men involved or for Margaret. Novelists have recognized the complexity of the situation these men faced;
    it's time they did the same for Margaret.