Book Excerpt: “Margaret of York and Mechelen,” by Kristie Dean

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On the Trail of the Yorks

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Today Kristie Dean stops by Queenanneboleyn.com during her Blog Tour celebrating the release of her new book On the Trail of the Yorks. Enjoy the outstanding excerpt that follows. Kristie explains,  “As I researched for On the Trail of the Yorks, I became intrigued with Margaret of York. Her strength of purpose is inspiring to me. She was such a strong woman. I enjoyed walking in her footsteps through Mechelen (Malines).”

EXCERPT:

Margaret spent most of her time as dowager duchess within the city of Mechelen, also known by Malines. Here she set up her principal residence, with Olivier de la Marche as master of her household. Located on the Dyle River, Mechelen was a prosperous trading town surrounded by high walls and impressive gates. Margaret’s husband had made it the seat of the Grand Council, and the town had flourished under Burgundian rule, competing with Brussels for trade.

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Gateway
The Mechelen Gateway

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Margaret’s Palace in Mechelen

Mechelen benefited from Margaret’s presence there; the town contributed to the construction of her palace. Margaret and her household often participated in local events, including St Rumbold’s day. When Emperor Frederick came to Mechelen in 1487, Margaret and the town ensured he enjoyed a royal welcome.

Margaret would have received most of her news from England while at Mechelen. In her palace she would have learned of Edward’s death, the disappearance of her nephews and Richard’s ascension to the throne. She would also have been here when she learned of the death of her brother at Bosworth. While she may have grieved at the loss of her brothers, she had business in Mechelen that needed her attention. Although she would be a thorn in Henry’s side, much of her focus was on Burgundy. This did not preclude her from hosting Perkin Warbeck and other exiled Yorkists at her court, however.

In July 1485, Philip was placed in her care in Mechelen. Margaret had spent time putting the palace in order and gathering a household for him. After Philip’s father, Maximilian, was captured, Margaret increased the defences in Mechelen in order to protect the young duke.

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Grote Markt (Great Market) in Mechelen
Grote Markt (Great Market) in Mechelen

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Margaret had purchased her palace from the Bishop of Cambrai. While the property was extensive, Margaret embarked on a building spree to make it even grander, building most of the palace in white stone from Brabant. She had a Great Hall erected parallel to the street, even though the complex had an existing hall standing perpendicular to the street. From an eighteenth-century engraving we can get an idea of how the palace was organised. Large gardens abutted the back of the buildings. The palace had several ranges of buildings built around courtyards. A large building towards the back of the complex was several stories with a span of gable windows. Unfortunately only a small section of the palace remains and is not open to the public.

Before Archduchess Joanna arrived, Margaret moved out of the palace and across the street to the oldest part of what would become Margaret of Austria’s palace. She did not undertake extensive building works here, although a gallery was built across the street so that she could reach her private oratory in the church of St Peter and St Paul.

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Burial Place of Margaret of York
Burial Place of Margaret of York

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Visiting the Palace Today

It is possible to see the exterior of what remains of Margaret’s palace. Today the building is now the City Theatre, known as the Stadsschouwburg. As you walk up to the building, head to the little door in the tower where you can see the arms of Margaret and Charles the Bold. Across the street is the Palace of Margaret of Austria, which is also worth a visit.

Make your way back to the Grote Markt, where you will see the large tower of the cathedral of St Rumbold (Rombout). Margaret would not have seen the tower soar as high as it does now, since it was still under construction during her lifetime. While the interior of the church dates from the baroque, it is a beautiful church and worth a visit. After the bones of St Rumbold were dug up in the cathedral, Margaret was present at an exhibition of his relics in 1480. Following your visit to the cathedral, make your way to its west entrance.

For more about Margaret’s time in Mechelen, read On the Trail of the Yorks.

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MEET THE AUTHOR!

Kristie Dean
Kristie Dean

Kristie Dean holds a Master’s Degree in History and now enjoys teaching the subject, following a successful career in public relations. She has been published on several online magazines and local newspapers and presented a paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. She lives in Tennessee, USA. To learn more about Kristi, visit her website at Kristie Dean.

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WIN

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

Kristie Dean and Amberley Publishing are graciously offering a complimentary copy of On the Trail of the Yorks to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on March 16, 2016. Good Luck!!!

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To Purchase On the Trail of the Yorks in the United Kingdom,

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

ON THE TRAIL OF THE YORKS

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Beth von Staats

is the owner and administrator of QueenAnneBoleyn.com. The author of "Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell", Beth specializes in writing magazine articles, online historical articles, short stories, and flash fiction.

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