Whose the mama?
Anne of York and her
He is NOT the father...
|Edward III, an ancestor?|
In testing Richard's male-line DNA, which should be passed from father to son over the generations with only minor variations between generations, the scientists found that his DNA did not match that of today's male-line descendants of his great-great-grandfather, King Edward III. (By the way, they had to look to such an earlier ancestor because the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors did an excellent job of killing off nearly every Plantagenet male and making it difficult for any descendants to make it to the 16th century, much less the 21st.) The DNA was not even close; no relationship whatsoever.
|Did Philippa love a butcher?|
This means that some other lady was naughty. (Or, was she? As one intrepid Tweeter pointed out, any of these women could have been raped, a crime that is still under-reported today. The raped wife of a royal or noble would very likely have kept that information to herself because it would have severely damaged her station in life.) The problem is that the geneaologists and the DNA experts have no idea whether it was one of Richard's grannies or some lady in the line to which his DNA was compared.
The accused: York brides
Isabella of Castile, who was the wife of Edmund of Langley Duke of York, was an illegitimate daughter of the King of Castile. This doesn't necessarily taint her character--she was certainly deemed worthy enough to marry a royal son, as was her sister Constance, who married Edmund's older brother John of Gaunt. However, her behavior does make her a likely candidate. Contemporary chroniclers noted her loose morals and she was said to have had affairs. The paternity of her son Richard Earl of Cambridge had been questioned long before this DNA study was conducted.
|Cecily Neville, one or more|
Interestingly the reputation of Richard Duke of York's wife, the aforementioned Cecily Neville, was impugned during her own lifetime. When her older son became King Edward IV, rival factions, especially his own cousin, alleged that he was illegitimate. Some historians believe the claim could be correct. If one son was not a true royal heir, could that mean her younger son King Richard III was also illegitimate? Just how loose was this royal lady, who by the way, never dignified the accusations with a response.
The accused: Lancaster/Beaufort/Somerset brides
John of Gaunt
So, let's take a look at these potential cheating ladies.
Katherine Swynford (read my post about her, Kate and Pippa: Sisters on the Rise), was the longtime mistress of John of Gaunt before he married her. All of their children, surnamed Beaufort, were born before their marriage and were later legitimated. The Dukes of Beaufort and the House of Tudor descend from this match (the Tudors through Henry VII's mother Margaret Beaufort.) Despite being the "other woman" through John's second, loveless marriage and be called an "infamous whore," I don't think Katherine was unfaithful to him. She waited quite a long time to get her man to herself. Plus, she was raised in the court of John's mother and named governess to his legitimate daughters, hardly a role that would be given to a woman of questionable reputation.
Margaret Holland, daughter of Thomas Holland and granddaughter of Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, whose third marriage to Edward the Black Prince (first son of Edward III) raised much ire because she had a second husband while still secretly married to her first husband, Mr. Holland. Her second husband imprisoned her for a while but that marriage was eventually annulled and she went back to the first husband, who died before she married the Prince. Got that? Margaret married John and Katherine's son John Beaufort 1st Earl of Somerset. She had six children including the 2nd Earl, the 1st and 2nd Dukes of Somerset, a Count, a Countess and a Queen of Scotland.
Eleanor Beachamp, daughter of the 13th Earl of Warwick. A widow with three children, she married Edmund Beaufort 1st Duke of Somerset in an unlicensed marriage that was later pardoned. She had least ten more children, two of whom became the 2nd and 3rd Dukes. After so many children, she was still up for a third marriage after Edmund died.
Elizabeth 3rd Baroness Herbert, sole heir of her father the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, held extensive lands in Wales. She married Charles Somerset 1st Earl of Worcester. Her only child was the 2nd Earl.
Elizabeth Browne, a courtier's daughter, second wife of the 2nd Earl of Worcester, mother of nine or 10 children including the 3rd Earl. She was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn and was one of those who testified that Anne had had several lovers, including the Queen's own brother. Although her testimony helped send the Queen to her death, she still named the daughter she bore later that year Anne.
Christian North, a baron's daughter, wife of the 3rd Earl of Worcester, mother of three children including the 4th Earl.
Elizabeth Hastings, a descendant of the York branch of the Plantagenet family and daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon, wife of the 4th Earl of Worcester, mother of 15 children including the 1st Marquess of Worcester.
Elizabeth Dormer, sister of the 1st Earl of Carnarvon, first wife of the 2nd Marquess of Worcester, mother of three children including the 1st Duke of Beaufort.
Mary Capell, who as the wife of 1st Duke of Beaufort (her second husband), was renowned as a botanist and gardener. She had seven children with her second husband, or did she?, one of whom was Charles Marquess of Somerset.
Rachel Noel, second wife of the 2nd Duke of Beaufort, mother of two sons, each of whom became the 3rd and 4th Dukes of Beaufort in turn.
Elizabeth Berkeley, sister of a royal governor of Virginia, wife of the 4th Duke of Beaufort, mother of six children including the 5th Duke.
Elizabeth Boscawen, daughter of an admiral, wife of the 5th Duke of Beaufort, mother of 13 children.
All of the men used in the DNA study are presumed to be the direct male descendants of the 5th Duke of Beaufort.
Is she the Queen or not?
However, the House of Tudor lasted only three generations before passing through the female line to the Scottish House of Stuart. Due to centuries of fighting between Catholics and Protestants, the rightful Stuart line, which happened to be Catholic, was eventually thrown out by Parliament in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in favor the Protestant children of King James II. When these children failed to produce living children of their own, Parliament again intervened with the 1701 Act of Settlement, which barred all Catholics from the throne and declared that only the heirs of the distant Stuart cousin Sophia Electress of Hanover could reign in Britain. (Read my post, When Protestant Princesses Have Catholic Daddies.) The current Queen derives her legitimacy from those decisions, not from any Plantagenet blood that may or may not be flowing in her veins.