Monday, May 31, 2010


 Yesterday I found myself wondering about the strength of the convictions of my generation and those that follow, and today I am marveling at strength of character during adversity. On May 31, 1495, Cecily (Duchess of York) died after having survived grief that would destroy most of us. Let's look at her chronology: 

1415 - Cecily, the youngest of twenty-one children, was born to Joan Beaufort (the daughter of John of Gaunt) and Ralph Neville, the Earl of Westmoreland. 
 1437 - Cicely married Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of  York. 
1455 - Her nephew Humphrey, the Earl of Stafford was killed at the battle of St. Albans
1460 - Cicely's brother-in-law Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham was killed during the battle of Northampton. Her husband Richard was killed during the battle of Wakefield. Also in the battle, her nephews Sir Thomas Neville and Sir Edward Bourchier were also killed. Her brother, the  Earl of Salisbury, was captured and put to death after the battle. Her son Edmund, the Earl of Rutland, though only twelve years of age was captured while fleeing the battlefield and was murdered by Lord Clifford. Her niece Catherine's first husband, Lord Harrington, was killed in battle.
1461 - Her nephew Sir Henry Neville was captured.
 1469 - Her nephew Sir Henry Neville, after eight years in captivity, is put to death.
1471 - Her nephews Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, and John Neville, the Marquis of Montague, were killed during the battle of Barnet. Her great-niece's husband Edward, the Prince of Wales, was murdered after the battle of Tewkesbury. 
 1473 - Her daughter Anne's second husband Henry Holland, the Duke of Exeter, who had been exiled was discovered stripped naked and drowned near Dover.
1477 - Her son-in-law Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgandy was killed during the battle of Nancy.
1478 - Cicely's son George, the Duke of Clarence, and his wife Cicely both died. Cicely was poisoned, and George was executed at Tower of London. Tradition says that he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.
 1483 - Her son Edward IV, the King of England died. Her niece Catherine's second husband, William, Lord Hastings, was beheaded. Her grandsons King Edward V and Richard, the Duke of York were murdered in the Tower. Her daughter Anne's second husband , Sir Thomas St. Ledger, was executed in Exeter. Her great-nephew Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, was beheaded.
1484 - Her grandson Edward,  the Prince of Wales, died. His mother Anne Neville Plantagenet died shortly afterward.
1485 - Her son Richard III, husband and father of the above mentioned, was killed during the battle of Bosworth Field.
1487 - Her grandson John de la Pole, the Earl of Lincoln, was killed during the battle of Stoke.

How many of us could handle all of these deaths? Cecily lived 34 years after her husband's death and never remarried. She survived all of her children but one. She watched many of her "grand" and "great" generations die. The turmoil of her time period would be another enormous stress. I am in awe. If I were to live through all that she did, I believe you would find me in an asylum somewhere. 

I also remember searching a cemetery for one of my relatives. I never discovered the relatives, but I did discover a family of sixteen who lived and died during the early 18oos.  I had recently had two children in three years who were healthy and strong. The mother and father in this family had had fourteen children in fifteen years. The child to live the longest managed to reach two months of age before his death. Here again, I am not sure that I could have handled that much adversity. I know I would have gotten to the point where just finding out that I was going to have a child would be so depressing. 

What allowed both of these women to continue their sorrow-filled life that is missing in today's time?

1 comment:

  1. Very Interesting! And sad. Following you from Friday Follow! Please stop by and say hello.