One of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, devoted a recent blog entry to this intriguing concept, and I’m using this space to collect and improve upon my suggestions. Here’s how it works (warning geeky history/writing details) — using just six words (or less), sum up the lives of historical figures from the medieval period, though it could be played for any time period or group of people — athletes, actors/actresses and politicians.
Naturally because it’s an obscure ability that has no financial value, I (according to Sharon) excel at this little trick. The thing about the observations is that they are very “inside” and may not be obvious to those who haven’t read widely on the period and the people. If Shakespeare or a certain caliber of historical authors are your only sources of information, these six word summations probably won’t make sense to you.
So I’m wondering if more people would appreciate the six words if they knew a bit about the people speaking them. Here’s what I have to date… tell me, what do you think?
Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, born May 31, 1441 or 1443 — died June 29 1509 was Henry VII’s devoted mother and a central figure in what came to be called the Wars of the Roses. Married three times, she had only one child, Henry when she was just 13. After years of exile, Henry won the crown on the battlefield at Bosworth in August 1485 and from this point she was known as “My Lady the Kings Mother” until her death the day after Henry VIII turned 18.
Her six words could be any of these…
It’s all been for you Henry.
Address me as The King’s Mother.
Redeeming family honor at any price.
Restoring family position with every conspiracy.
Bar Beauforts from the succession, ha!
Henry VII of England born January 28, 1457 — died April 21, 1509 was King of England and Lord of Ireland after winning the crown at the Battle of Bosworth Field from Richard III. He was a desperately needed stabilizing influence in England after the upheaval of Wars of the Roses, though his later years were known for their greed and lack of due process. He married Edward IV’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York which untied the two warring factions of Lancaster and York. They had seven children, three who lived to adulthood.
His six words seem easy, given his well-known (even by contemporaries) love of money.
So, what’s this gonna cost me?
Now for his wife, my personal favorite of the Tudors, Elizabeth of York, born February 11, 1466 — died February 11 1503 from complications after delivering her last child, a daughter who also died. She was, during her lifetime daughter, sister, niece, wife and mother of English royalty and after the sudden death of her father, Edward IV in April 1483, was plunged into an uncertain period where she was declared legally illegitimate and was drawn into her mother’s intrigues with the Lancastrian side. Though Henry VII made a point to emphasize his own royal lineage, it was Elizabeth who had the more direct claim.
A well-recognized mediator, she was widely regarded as kind, gentle and generous to her family, servants and benefactors. Her six words could be any of these…
What has mother gotten me into?
My children are everything to me.
Tolerate my husband; love my children.
I’M the royal one, you lout.
As fun as this is, I’ve got to stop now, but will add to this as time permits. You can cut to the chase, and see many other six word gems (mine and others) at Sharon’s blog or on the Facebook thread she’s got going. Some excellent entries for sure!