Sunday, 18 December 2016

Ancestors come to life through Shakespeare

Like most of us, I read my share of Shakespearean plays a long time ago in school. I've also seen several productions of those plays. Since I  learned a few years ago that I'm descended from Plantagenets, Nevilles, Mortimers and more, I watch these plays with a new appreciation, since, as I wrote here, the Plantagenets have long held my fascination.

Henry VI (1421-1471)
 National Portrait Gallery
Last week, I watched the first of three episodes of The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses. These wars went on in many battles for 30 years between two Plantagenet lines: the Yorks (the white rose) and the Lancasters (the red rose), who both wanted the crown of England. Read more. Several of the key participants in the Wars of the Roses were descended from Edward III (1312-1377), my 19th great grandfather.

This series is, as it says here, epic, and brings my ancestors to life. Several of the major characters are my aunts, uncles and cousins many times removed, beginning with the title character in the first episode, Henry VI, Part I, who is my 1/2 2nd cousin, 17 times removed. Yes, that's a bit of a remote connection, I'll grant you. But he's still my ancestor, and I'll claim him.

Other ancestors of mine in Henry VI, Part I include:
  • Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447)
  • Richard of York (1411-1460) and his wife, Cecily Nevill (1415-1495), who were the parents of Edward IV and Richard III
  • Cecily's brother Richard, known as Warwick the Kingmaker (1428-1471)
  • Henry Beaufort, the Bishop of Winchester (abt 1375-1447)
  • Henry's brother Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (abt 1377-1426)
  • Their nephew Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (1406-1455)
  • Edmund Mortimer (1391-1425)
  • William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450)
Tonight, Henry VI, Part II, the second part of this series airs. I can't wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Richard III in this and next week's final episode, Richard III. This Richard is of course, my dear cousin Richard of the car park.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016 All rights reserved

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