As interpretations of history painting changed their content drew more than ever from artistic interpretation. This image by Daniel Maclise, the Cork born painter of Scottish descent, depicts William Caxton showing his first print run to Edward IV and his family. Its all very nuclear with Elizabeth Woodville snuggled up against Edward’s shoulder – her eldest daughter Elizabeth of York by her side. In front of the king stands his heir Edward and younger son, Richard of Shrewsbury. The illustration can be found in Cassell’s History of England. But is it history?
One of Caxton’s friends and patron in England was Elizabeth’s brother Anthony, 2nd Earl Rivers. Anthony translated works that Caxton printed and some of the printers works found their way into the future Edward V’s library at Ludlow where Lord Rivers was responsible for his nephew’s education.
Rivers was not the only contact Caxton had with the royal family. He had found patronage in Europe in the person of Margaret of Burgundy – Edward IV’s sister. Caxton probably printed his first book in England in 1474. Two years later he moved into the Almonry in Westminster – where Maclise situated his painting – Caxton was under the Abbot of Westminster’s patronage at that time.
We become part of the audience watching the king and queen’s response and are drawn to the centre of the picture which has a ‘spot light’ of brightness. Even Caxton’s dog gets in on the act creating a very domestic scene. it’s all very cosy – no wonder the children’s uncle was in receipt of a bad press after Edward’s death!
I’m currently writing a biography on Anthony Woodville. A whole chapter will be about Caxton and Woodville’s working relationship, as well as reading trends at the time.
That sounds absolutely fascinating. Let me know when it comes out please? And if you fancy doing a guest post please get in contact.
Thank you, it’s been a passion project for many years now. I’m half way through writing it at the moment, with a deadline of the beginning of May. I’ll let you know when I know more. Thank you, that would be good. Perhaps closer to release?
Closer to release when you can advertise th ebook would be very good. I look forward to hearing from you – and to finding out more.
Pity he never showed up with my side of the family (including Arthur 6th Viscount Lisle Plantagenet Wayte)!
I think having Arthur in the family tree and all those Plantagenets is probably more than cool enough.
Good read but your question is at end answerable enough. Their Uncle Richard was framed . Tell me how if not did Archbishop Morton know where exactly the Princes lay in death . Morton had been punished by Richard and only just had returned under protection on Margaret Beaufort . Her husband Lord Stanley was out to protect his new wife son as King . By killing all that could rise against her son in future also gave an edge to destroying the reputation of Richard . Woodvill may have been one of Beauforts spies . It work well indeed as we know who was blamed as planed .Beaufort for her sins entered the closed cells of the nuns in penance . It is the only way this case can be told
Well no its not the only way it can be told because the thing about a good secret is that there’s not much in the way of evidence. Which is of course, why it remains such a controversial period of history.