Friday, 12 September 2014

Margaret of Savoy


It’s been an exciting few weeks – firstly, the Historical Novel Society weekend was very illuminating.  And it’s been good motivation as well. I have less than one year to finish my research and write my first draft of the Tudor murder mystery novel. I’m loving the research, but it is difficult to not get sidetracked.  I’ve been looking into Catherine of Aragon and whilst reading papers from Henry VIII court in 1513, I kept coming across some familiar names, but what caught my eye was Margaret of Savoy. Of course there have been a few women of that title over time, but only one alive in 1513 and the more I read about her (see, distracted) the more I came to love her.

The letter that caught my eye last night was from Mary, Princess of Castile to Margaret, thanking her for the costume patterns for the women in her court, of which she hopes to introduce the fashion very soon. I love this very girly sharing of patterns and style, but it goes much deeper than that as sneaky Margaret has a very large hand in dealing out textiles as well as fashions – not just out of a feminine vanity, but to add to the political and financial strength of her country.

Margaret of Savoy (or, Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy) made new ground with what women rulers could do in a very male dominated world.  She was widowed twice and was allowed to live in her own right and having a hand in European politics. She negotiated a treaty of trade with England that favoured Flemish cloth interests and even helped to form the League of Cambrai in 1508 (a Holy League that held vast political and Papal influence throughout Europe) and later, the Treaty of Cambrai (known also as Ladies’ Peace).

I’d love to see what sort of relationship Margaret had with Catherine of Aragon, as both women held immense political sway and influence. But that must wait for another day. For now, I must read more papers and letters from 1513, note what I can (as I’m looking for Catherine’s letters from, to, or about her as her early life as Queen and especially Regent is very vaguely documented).

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