Biographies & Memoirs

Prologue

London, Saturday 18 June 1468:

Cheapside was en fête, banners, tapestries and garlands of flowers hung from the high windows and the city guard had taken up their positions along the well swept streets. The Mayor and Aldermen, uncomfortably hot in their fur-trimmed robes of office, stood at the Cross, awaiting the arrival of the King’s sister coming to say her farewells to all the city merchants who had stood surety for her dowry.

As the cheers greeted Margaret’s cavalcade there was delight and a sense of relief. It was not merely the Londoners’ pleasure at the sight of an elegantly dressed bride, but much more significantly the fact that she came riding pillion behind her cousin, the Earl of Warwick. The rumours that the powerful and popular Earl had fallen out with the King over her marriage had alarmed the city. Nobody wanted a return to the anarchy and civil war which had crippled the country for more than a decade until the young Edward had come fresh from the battlefield to be crowned at the bidding of Warwick.

Reared in a dangerous and unpredictable world where her father, brother and uncle had all perished in a single skirmish at Wakefield, Margaret too was relieved to have the approval of her mighty cousin. Listening to the speeches and receiving the gift of rich plate which the Mayor offered on behalf of the city, she was well aware of her new importance as the bride of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, the richest duke in Europe. She rode off through the cheering throng towards London Bridge, her serious demeanour reflecting her responsibilities, both towards her own family whom she was leaving behind, and to the new country which awaited her.

A mature and intelligent young woman, a strong sense of duty was to be the hallmark of her whole life and, in spite of the most appalling catastrophes, Margaret, unlike her brothers, would always show a consistent and courageous loyalty both to the House of York and to the House of Burgundy.

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