1) Margaret of Anjou (French: Marguerite; 23 March 1430 – 25 August 1482) was a fascinating character, much maligned by Shakespeare, but by any measures an extraordinary woman in a time dominated by men. Margaret was the Queen of England by marriage to King Henry VI from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. Born in the Duchy of Lorraine into the House of Valois-Anjou, Margaret was the second eldest daughter of René, King of Naples, and Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine.
2) She was one of the principal figures in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses and at times personally led the Lancastrian faction. Owing to her husband’s frequent bouts of insanity, Margaret ruled the kingdom in his place. It was she who called for a Great Council in May 1455 that excluded the Yorkist faction headed by Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, and this provided the spark that ignited a civil conflict that lasted for more than 30 years, decimated the old nobility of England, and caused the deaths of thousands of men, including her only son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.
3) In events leading to the battle of Tewkesbury, the actions of the city of Gloucester in turning her and her troops away at the South Gate are claimed by many to have been decisive in deciding the results of the battle and the war.
4) To commemorate the 550th anniversary of the turning away of Margaret of Anjou at South Gate at we are proposing a week-long festival will be held in Gloucester. One key element to this will be the reconstruction of the South Gate and part of the wall on Kimbrose Triangle. This would provide a backdrop and performance space for many of the other activities and provide a valuable link activity area between city centre and docks. The team at Marketing Gloucester are working up a plan with partners including Tewkesbury medieval festival. We are delighted to confirm that early support has been committed to the infrastructure by Gloucester BID who see the huge benefits of increased visitor numbers through the year. We are very happy to hear from anyone who would like to be involved and envisage that the History Festival in September could be an important part of the celebrations. Currently we have partners involved in the following, or who are investigating:
a) Building of replica South Gate and part of the wall at Kimbrose triangle, with this to also provide performance space to the North Side, and be suitable for other uses during the year, including Gloucester Day
b) Re-enactment celebrating the anniversary in 2021 including a potential march from Gloucester to Tewkesbury. Timing to be around Tewkesbury Medieval Festival second week of July with possible additional events 3rd May 2021
c) Original Play on Margaret of Anjou (possibly outdoors at Kimbrose Triangle)
d) New devoted Margaret of Anjou Website
e) Partnership with the other towns/cities connected with Margaret of Anjou particularly Tewkesbury
f) Series of Talks on Margaret of Anjou (Glos Hist Fest)
g) Medieval Fayre
h) Medieval Banquet at the Cathedral
i) Museum exhibition regarding Margaret of Anjou and Gloucester’s importance in war of the roses (Richard III)
j) Schools education piece/competition
k) Civic Trust walking tours
l) Archaeology TBC Andrew Armstrong
m) Performance of series of William Shakespeare’s 1st Tetralogy of History plays, which include Margaret of Anjou: Henry VI, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Richard III. She is the only character to appear alive in all four plays.
o) Further uses for gate, including morphing for use during Civil War re-enactment and Gloucester Day
5) Battle of Tewkesbury – King Edward realized that the Lancastrians were seeking to cross the River Severn into Wales. The nearest crossing point they could use was at the city of Gloucester. He sent urgent messages to the Governor, Sir Richard Beauchamp, ordering him to bar the gates to Margaret and man the city’s defences. When Margaret arrived on the morning of 3 May, Beauchamp refused her summons to let her army pass, and she realized that there was insufficient time to storm the city before Edward’s army arrived. Instead, her army made another forced march of 10 miles (16 km) to Tewkesbury, attempting to reach the next bridge at Upton-upon-Severn, 7 miles (11 km) further on. Edward meanwhile had marched no less than 31 miles (50 km), passing through Cheltenham (then little more than a village) in the late afternoon. The day was very hot, and both the Lancastrians and Edward’s pursuing army were exhausted. The Lancastrians were forced to abandon some of their artillery, which was captured by Yorkist reinforcements following from Gloucester.
6) At Tewkesbury the tired Lancastrians halted for the night. Most of their army were footmen and unable to continue further without rest, and even the mounted troops were weary. By contrast, King Edward’s army was composed mainly of mounted men, who nevertheless dismounted to fight on foot as most English armies did during this period. Hearing from his “prickers” or mounted scouts of Margaret’s position, Edward drove his army to make another march of 6 miles (9.7 km) from Cheltenham, finally halting 3 miles (4.8 km) from the Lancastrians. The Lancastrians knew they could retreat no further before Edward attacked their rear, and that they would be forced to give battle.
7) Margaret was taken prisoner by the victorious Yorkists after the Lancastrian defeat at Tewkesbury. In 1475, she was ransomed by her cousin, King Louis XI of France. She went to live in France as a poor relation of the French king, and she died there at the age of 52
Depictions in Fiction
8) Margaret is a major character in William Shakespeare’s 1st Tetralogy of History plays. Henry VI, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Richard III. She is the only character to appear alive in all four plays. Shakespeare portrays Margaret as an intelligent, ruthless woman who easily dominates her husband and fiercely vies for power with her enemies. In Henry VI, Part 2 Margaret has an affair with the Duke of Suffolk and mourns his death by carrying around his severed head. In Henry VI, Part 3 she personally stabs the Duke of York on the battlefield (after humiliatingly taunting him) and becomes suicidal when her son Edward is killed in front of her. Despite the fact that Margaret spent the rest of her life outside England after the death of her husband and son, Shakespeare has her return to the court in Richard III. Margaret serves as a Cassandra-like prophetess; in her first appearance she dramatically curses the majority of the nobles for their roles in the downfall of the House of Lancaster. All of her curses come to pass as the noblemen are betrayed and executed by Richard of Gloucester, and each character reflects on her curse before his execution. Shakespeare had famously described Margaret : “How ill-beseeming is it in thy sex/ To triumph like an Amazonian trull/ Upon their woes whom Fortune captivates.”
9) Margaret is the title character of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1820 opera Margherita d’Anjou.
10) In the 1963 production by the Royal Shakespeare Company of The Wars of the Roses, broadcast by the BBC in 1965 and 1966, Margaret was played by Peggy Ashcroft. In the second series of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, a three-part television adaptation of the Tetralogy first broadcast in 2016, Margaret was portrayed by Sophie Okonedo.
11) Margaret of Anjou has an important role in Bulwer-Lytton’s The Last of the Barons (1843).
12) Margaret of Anjou is the main character in Barnaby Ross’s 1966 novel, The Passionate Queen – Barnaby Ross was a publisher’s house name for historical novels written by various authors, among them Don Tracy, who wrote The Passionate Queen.
13) Margaret of Anjou is the subject of Betty King’s 1974 biographical novel Margaret of Anjou – a sympathetic portrayal.
14) Margaret of Anjou is an important character in Sir Walter Scott’s 1829 novel Anne of Geierstein, where she appears disguised as a beggar following her exile.
15) Margaret of Anjou is the main character in Jean Plaidy’s 1982 novel The Red Rose of Anjou.
16) Margaret of Anjou is the important character in the early parts of Sharon Kay Penman’s 1982 novel The Sunne in Splendour, up until the Battle of Tewkesbury.
17) Margaret of Anjou is the subject of Alan Savage’s 1994 novel Queen of Lions, a portrayal which imagines she had an exceptionally active sex life.
18) Margaret of Anjou is one of the major characters in The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (2011), narrated by Jacquetta of Luxembourg.
19) She also appears in The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (2009), narrated by Elizabeth Woodville.
20) She is mentioned in The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (2010), narrated by Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby.
21) She also appears in The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory (2012), narrated by Anne Neville.
22) Margaret of Anjou is the main character in Susan Higginbotham’s 2011 novel The Queen of Last Hopes – a sympathetic portrayal.
23) Margaret of Anjou is a major subject in Stormbird, the first book of Conn Iggulden’s trilogy about The Wars of the Roses.
24) She also is the subject of a fictional biography, The Royal Tigress by a fictional character, David Powlett-Jones who is the main subject of To Serve Them All My Days, R.F. Delderfield’s novel of a Welsh schoolmaster at a Devon public school from World War I to the Battle of Britain in the 1940s. Delderfield, in the person of Powlett-Jones, appears to have a very good grasp of Margaret’s life and the Wars of the Roses, and the content and development of the book give us an entertaining sub-plot to the book’s main narrative.
25) In the television series The White Queen (2013), based on Gregory’s The Cousins’ War novels, Margaret of Anjou is portrayed by Veerle Baetens.
26) Tewkesbury Medieval Festival
27) Museum of Gloucester
28) Gloucester City Council
29) Gloucester Heritage Forum
30) Gloucester History Festival
31) Gloucester Music Festival
32) Gloucester BID/ Marketing Gloucester
33) Strike a light
34) Gloucester Culture Trust
36) Gloucester BID
37) Richard III society
For enquiries please contact Karen@marketinggloucester.co.uk or Natasha@marketinggloucester.co.uk