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The Fair Rosamund - What do we actually know?

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Lindsey
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The Fair Rosamund - What do we actually know?

Postby Lindsey » Thu January 29th, 2009, 7:47 pm

Henry II's mistress Rosamund Clifford has always intrigued me since I first read about her, particularly how Henry's relationship with her destroyed his marriage to Eleanor, but what do we actually know about Rosamund? The actual truth about her is quite vague. I read somewhere that her name wasn't actually Rosamund but Jane (?). And in Ariana Franklin's The Death Maze she was depicted as being fat. Is this just AF's artistic license or is there any basis for it? Does anyone know anything else about her?

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Postby Susan » Thu January 29th, 2009, 11:41 pm

Not very much is known about her. We recently had a discussion that involved her on the royalty forum I help moderate pertaining to Henry II's illegitimate children. It seems some resources attribute children to her that were not hers. I'd put a link to that discussion here, but there seems to be a technical problem accessing the royalty forum at the moment.

Here are some resources, but I don't vouch for the accuracy of information contained in them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosamund_Clifford
http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00000236&tree=LEO
http://www.sexualfables.com/the_woman_in_the_bower.php
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Postby EC2 » Sat January 31st, 2009, 11:10 am

"Susan" wrote:Not very much is known about her. We recently had a discussion that involved her on the royalty forum I help moderate pertaining to Henry II's illegitimate children. It seems some resources attribute children to her that were not hers. I'd put a link to that discussion here, but there seems to be a technical problem accessing the royalty forum at the moment.

Here are some resources, but I don't vouch for the accuracy of information contained in them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosamund_Clifford
http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00000236&tree=LEO
http://www.sexualfables.com/the_woman_in_the_bower.php


Your reply and those urls just about sums up what is known Susan. I've done Akashic research on her, but of course such a resource isn't conventional history!
The Death Maze (I wasn't keen) gets the few known facts about Rosamund completely wrong. For a start she didn't die until 1176 and TDM has her dead in winter 1172. I think to have been Henry's companion for such a long time, she must have been a woman of wit and intelligence. That Henry saw fit to have her buried at Godstow (no other mistresses received such elevated treatment) and that she was remembered with him in a service after he died, says to me that she truly was the love of his life. I don't believe his relationship with her was the full reason for the downfall of his relationship with Eleanor. It was the issue of the governance of Eleanor's lands that came between them as much as Rosamund. I am also led to wonder about Henry and Eleanor's match - how much was politics and how much was human relationship. Perhaps the balance needs readjusting on the side of politics.
Last edited by EC2 on Sat January 31st, 2009, 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby LoveHistory » Sun February 1st, 2009, 1:51 am

Considering that Eleanor was already married to somebody else (himself a king) I would think that politics would have been the last reason for her to start something with Henry. It had to be more of a personal nature. Though that doesn't necessarily mean love was part of the equation.

Rosamund was obviously very important to Henry. It could be that he had a more comfortable relationship with Rosamund, where her gentleness soothed him. I could easily see his marriage to Eleanor having a strong love/hate dynamic.

Perhaps he loved them both, in different ways.

Curious...is there any truth to the relationship with Alys that is such a large part of the scheming in The Lion in Winter?

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Postby EC2 » Sun February 1st, 2009, 2:01 am

"LoveHistory" wrote:Considering that Eleanor was already married to somebody else (himself a king) I would think that politics would have been the last reason for her to start something with Henry. It had to be more of a personal nature. Though that doesn't necessarily mean love was part of the equation.


Sorrry, I don't understand what you mean :confused: For who to start something with Henry?


Rosamund was obviously very important to Henry. It could be that he had a more comfortable relationship with Rosamund, where her gentleness soothed him. I could easily see his marriage to Eleanor having a strong love/hate dynamic.


How do we know she had a gentle nature? Are there any sources that say so or is it part of the mythology?

Perhaps he loved them both, in different ways.


Who can say?

Curious...is there any truth to the relationship with Alys that is such a large part of the scheming in The Lion in Winter?


I don't think so, neither does Sharon Kay Penman. Henry had too much to lose - again no proof either way.
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Postby LoveHistory » Sun February 1st, 2009, 1:37 pm

I meant Eleanor starting a relationship with Henry while she was still queen of France. Doesn't seem like the smart thing to do. Of course if she was bored with her life and wanted a step up, that makes sense, but still it would have been very risky. Then again, I could be operating under part of the mythos of the whole story.

Rosamund's possible gentility is definitely part of the legend. But it does make sense that after years of turmoil with Eleanor, Henry might want someone less volatile. So that could be where that myth originated.

Sadly, no one can say. That's part of why historical fiction is so much fun. They left so much for us to guess, that there could be any number of interpretations.

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Postby EC2 » Sun February 1st, 2009, 2:07 pm

[
QUOTE=LoveHistory;19298]I meant Eleanor starting a relationship with Henry while she was still queen of France. Doesn't seem like the smart thing to do. Of course if she was bored with her life and wanted a step up, that makes sense, but still it would have been very risky. Then again, I could be operating under part of the mythos of the whole story.


Oh, I absolutely think she didn't do this. In a couple of years, I am probably going to be studying her in depth, but even from my intermediate view now, I think she'd have been stark raving bonkers to do such a thing.

R
osamund's possible gentility is definitely part of the legend. But it does make sense that after years of turmoil with Eleanor, Henry might want someone less volatile. So that could be where that myth originated.


I think it definitely is a myth because nothing is known about the woman's personality whatsoever. Wikipedia says "Historians do seem to agree, however, that Rosamund was Eleanor's opposite in personality and that Henry and Rosamund appear to have shared a deep love." Where do these unnamed historians get that idea from. There's absolutely nothing in contemporary chronicles to give a clue. The deep love bit, yes, but not the personality. IMO to keep a man of Henry's busy, restless intellects, appetites, and curiosities satisfied, Rosamund would have had to be clever, witty, and capable of thinking up diversions beyond the bed-chamber. Henry never rested and that was by choice. A love of his life would have to be able to keep up with him. Then again, it's interesting that Wikipedia quotes Marion Meade as saying Rosamund was one of the most neglected mistresses in history! All the fair, gentle female stuff appears to come from Tudor ballads and pre-Raphaelite ideas. There's a long gap between the chronicles of the 12thC and the 16thc.
What did interest me, reading the Wikipedia article, is that Rosamund's mother was a de Tosny - Margaret/Isabel. Henry's mistress after Rosamund was one Ida de Tosny. I'll have to go searching, but I suspect a close family relationship. Did Henry set eyes on Ida while Rosamund was still alive, or know her through Rosamund? Hmmm... that's set me on the trail!


Sadly, no one can say. That's part of why historical fiction is so much fun. They left so much for us to guess, that there could be any number of interpretations.
[/QUOTE]

Yes it's great fun - but it's also fun solving a puzzle and nailing an answer!
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Postby Volgadon » Sun February 1st, 2009, 3:10 pm

I suppose that Rosamund might not have had Eleanor's ambitiousness, but I tend to agree with EC that Rosamund was far from gentle. Probably knew when and how far could push his buttons though.

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Postby annis » Sun February 1st, 2009, 5:21 pm

So much of the story of Rosamund took on a mythic quality over the years, becoming mixed up with Arthurian legends like the Lady of Shallott.
Really, what would have been the point of Eleanor disposing of Rosamund when she'd already removed herself from the scene?

My feeling is that the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor was a brilliant political match for them both, and quite possibly, given their natures, attended by a healthy amount of lust. But I have some doubts about whether it was a great love story.

Charles Dickens had this to say on the subject of Fair Rosamond. In his "Child's History of England" (1851-53) he wrote: “There was a fair Rosamond, and she was (I dare say) the loveliest girl in all the world, and the king was certainly very fond of her, and the bad Queen Eleanor was certainly made jealous. But I am afraid -- I say afraid, because I like the story so much -- that there was no bower, no labyrinth, no silken clue, no dagger, no poison. I am afraid Fair Rosamond retired to a nunnery near Oxford, and died there, peaceably.” Although rather condescending in tone it covers the salient point- there is not a shred of evidence to support the idea that Eleanor was responsible for Rosamond’s death, whatever popular folklore has to say about it and I think most historians would agree.

Much I enjoy Diana Norman's novels, I just couldn't take to "Death Maze"-the whole story seems just too unlikely and contrived. I was disappointed because I liked "Mistress of the Art of Death".

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Postby EC2 » Sun February 1st, 2009, 7:00 pm

"annis" wrote:My feeling is that the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor was a brilliant political match for them both, and quite possibly, given their natures, attended by a healthy amount of lust. But I have some doubts about whether it was a great love story.


That's exactly how I feel about it Annis from where I stand at the moment.
Re Charles Dickens etc. There was some kind of a dwelling with ornamental pools at Woodstock. The Duchess of Marlborough destroyed the Medieval complex there when she had Blenheim Palace built. There's a report on it in The Medieval Palaces of England by Thomas Beaumont James.

Much I enjoy Diana Norman's novels, I just couldn't take to "Death Maze"-the whole story seems just too unlikely and contrived. I was disappointed because I liked "Mistress of the Art of Death".


I thought it was dreadful from a historical point of view. There's tinkering a bit with history and then there making a travesty!
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


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