25 September, 2020

Your Application To Join The Official Victimhood Group Is Rejected

This meeting of the Official Victimhood Rejectees was written jointly by Michèle Schindler and me, and follows on from this post about Isabella of France, the Great Victim. Another person for whom victimhood and enormous suffering is often claimed for multiple reasons is Anne Neville, Richard III's wife and queen. She has, so Michèle tells me, been called a victim for, firstly and most importantly, having an arranged marriage to Edward of Lancaster, a marriage that might, if things had turned out differently, have made her a queen a dozen or so years before she actually did become one. Having one's marriage arranged to a person of similar or higher rank was pretty normal for a person of her status and era, you might think, and Anne's own father Richard Neville was married off to her mother Anne Beauchamp when he was *six* and she was eight, yet he's somehow not a victim or a pawn because of that. Anne is also portrayed as a victim for 2) being crowned queen of England, an exhausting ceremony for someone so terribly frail and sickly; 3) for being terribly frail and sickly, an assumption for which there is no evidence except that she died in her late twenties; 4) for having miscarriages, for which there is also no evidence; 5) for only giving birth once but 6) also for being forced to give birth at all, and 7) for having to be parted from her son for a month at one point when she voluntarily left for London. Numbers 5 and 6 also apply to Isabella of France, who's endlessly pitied for her sporadic sex life (as though we have any way of knowing how often she and Edward had sex) and for the fact that Edward gave her only four children, but who is also pitied for being Edward's 'brood-mare' and for being forced to bear a king's children when this daughter of the king of France and the queen of Navarre was, I dunno, dying to leap into bed with a latrine-cleaner instead or something.

By stark contrast to the frequently-pushed and grossly exaggerated victimhood of Queen/Saint Isabella and Anne, it sometimes seems that suffering endured by others not appointed Official Victims is met with, at best, indifference, and at worst what sometimes seems to be verging on actual callousness. So here is a meeting of the Rejected Applicants for Official Victimhood, some by me and some by Michèle.


Eleanor of Woodstock: Hello, people. I sent off an application a few years ago to be appointed an Official Victim. I pointed out that my brother married me off to a mere count when I wasn't even fourteen yet, after my dad had promised to make me a queen in Spain, and that the count was decades older than me and had four children already. He made me pregnant not long after the wedding and I gave birth to my first son when I was still only fourteen. Then, the git tried to repudiate me on the false grounds that I had leprosy and humiliated me in front of everyone. I thought I had a great case, but I didn't hear anything from the committee for months, so wrote again. Finally they responded by sending me back my application with the words "Rejected because you are not your tragic mother, the victimiest victim who was ever victimised, and therefore nobody cares" written across it.

Joan of the Tower: Same thing happened to me, sis. I applied on the grounds that, as everyone weeps and wails over our mum being betrothed to Dad when she was a little kid, I should be an Official Victim, given that Mum married me off to that horrid brat David Bruce when I'd just turned seven. After we grew up, he cheated on me constantly, and allowed his mistress Katherine to wield so much influence that some of his desperate barons had her assassinated. I pointed out in my application that this was pretty much what happened with Piers Gaveston, and that if my mum is an Official Victim, I should be too, because, well, it's the same situation, isn't it? But no, I was turned down because David is straight, and his cheating on me with women therefore doesn't count and doesn't matter, and also because I'm not my mother and not the most special, important, amazing, beautiful, desirable and tragic royal woman who has ever lived. I'm somehow not a helpless tragic pawn either, despite being sent at the age of seven to live in a kingdom I'd been raised to believe was my country's enemy so that my mum and my father-in-law could make a peace settlement.

Blanche de Bourbon, queen of Castile: When I applied, on the grounds that Pedro imprisoned me, aged fourteen, within days of our wedding while he went off with his pregnant mistress, and that I died having never regained my freedom eight years later, I was also rejected. They told me that Edward II greeted Piers Gaveston with excessive enthusiasm at Dover and soon afterwards only spoke a few words to tragic, long-suffering Isabella of France at their coronation banquet, and that this is clearly the most appallingly cruel and abusive treatment that any human being has ever inflicted on another. By comparison, a representative of the Official Victimhood organisation told me, being kept in solitary confinement for eight years and then murdered is absolutely nothing and there isn't one single iota of sympathy whatsoever left over for me.

"If you need help coping with your dread that a nobleman is wearing a piece of jewellery and laughing, I'm here for you, sis. Thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Oh wait, I've just remembered, the story that Edward gave your presents to Piers was invented in the nineteenth century and never actually happened. There you go then, sorted."

Constanza of Castile: I was a king's daughter whose marriage to a king's son was arranged in 1371, and when I arrived in England as a teenager, I found that my husband, John of Gaunt, was deeply in love with Katherine Swynford and had four children with her over the next few years. I'm not all that fussed, to be honest, because my own father Pedro - husband of poor Blanche - fathered children with numerous women he wasn't married to, including my mother, but when I heard that Isabella of France has been appointed the Greatest Victim Of All Time because Edward II was in love with Piers Gaveston when she married him, I thought I might as well give it a shot. The Official Victimhood group rejected my application on the grounds that John and Katherine's relationship is one of the greatest love affairs of the Middle Ages and gives lots of people happy warm fuzzy feelz, so it doesn't matter that it was adulterous and it doesn't matter at all if my feelings or sensibilities were hurt. I mean, I'm nothing but a smelly religious fanatic, after all, and people practically cheer when I die because it means that my husband is free to marry his mistress at last. And as Queen Joan said a few minutes ago, the very same people who recoil in horror at the thought of Edward loving Gaveston are all beamingly indulgent and 'awwwww sho shweeeeeeet' when a married man falls in love with a woman.

Michael de la Pole: I feel all your pain. I tried to apply as well, because my wife made me father a child with her when I was barely thirteen and she was twenty. As if that was not traumatic enough, before I even turned of age, me, my father and my next younger brother William were forced to go to fight a war in France, because King Henry V felt he wanted to be King of France. We found only mud, blood and tears, and within a month, my father was dead of dysentery, my brother was injured, and I had to keep fighting. I ended up dying at Agincourt, age twenty, and no one but my family even cared about me dying because the English forces had won such an oh so wonderful, glorious victory, and it just puts a damper on the mood to think of dead minors, right? My application to the group was rejected because I`m a man, and men, apparently, can`t be victims. I only wish I had known this during my lifetime.

Joan Beaumont: I thought my application was really strong. I was married aged five to a thirteen-year-old who grew up so horrible even his own father tried to disinherit him as well as he could. He first impregnated me when I was thirteen years old and he was nearly twenty-two. I had a child and he impregnated me again almost immediately, and I gave birth to twins. I had three children when I was barely fifteen, and had to live with a man who was widely loathed and connected with violence whenever he was mentioned anywhere. I lost my oldest son before he was eight years old. I was finally was free of my husband when he died when I was twenty-three, but just when I thought I had found happiness with another man, I died in childbirth, just after my twenty-fifth birthday. I don`t think anyone even saw my application, I just heard some murmurs about how I was not important enough, and my second son grew up a good man so his father couldn`t really be that bad. But I did get to sit through a long lecture about the victimhood of some girl my son`s age, named Anne Neville. Apparently the poor pet had to marry a boy three years her senior when she was fourteen. He never did anything against her that anyone ever said or even implied, but he might have said something mean as a kid, so that is some real victimhood. Makes me grateful I only ever had to bear an adult man`s kids when I was barely in my teens.

Edward of Lancaster: That kid who said something supposedly bad was me, Joan dear. Supposedly I demanded that two men who had betrayed my father be beheaded, age seven. Never mind that one of them was dead in battle by the time I`m supposed to have said that, it still haunts me. I was sneerily rejected from the Official Victimhood Group because of it, even though I thought that having had my birthright taken from me age seven, chased to exile at the same age, separated from my father for a year, having to live off the charity of my mother`s relatives and then dying age seventeen trying to reclaim my birthright, in a war that was not even remotely my fault, would make my case a pretty good one. Apparently not, because a provably faulty rumour I said something bad as a child makes it all invalid.

Francis Lovell: Hi, I'm Joan Beaumont's son. I don't see myself as a victim, exactly, but I applied because I'm a bit sick of constantly being said to be, and portrayed, as the happy-go-lucky friend with the perfect life. Me and my siblings grew up with a mother young enough to be our sister and a father absolutely loathed for violence. He was so bad, I couldn't stand to even have prayers said for him twenty years after he died, or live in the same quarters he lived. My one-year-older brother died when we were children, not that anyone ever really cares. When my father died when I was eight, it was a relief, but it also meant I was made the king's ward and had to move away from my mother, my twin sister and my baby sister. My mother died when I was ten. My twin sister died before she was twenty-five, my wife lost one baby and then it turned out I couldn't ever have children again. Then my best friend was murdered, and in my quest to have revenge for him, my closest foster brother was also killed. I understand that a lot of that wasn't all that abnormal at the time, but you'd think it would get at least some compassion. But my application was rejected unread. Apparently, I'm lucky, and my best friend Richard's wife, Anne Neville, now she had a proper hard life.

Eleanor of Woodstock: Blimey, the Official Victimhood Group committee really don't have much time for us lot, do they? Maybe if we just try a bit harder, we might be deemed special enough and tragic enough to be appointed Official Victims one of these years. Though I'm not holding my breath, to be honest. It seems that only one person can be made a Tragic Suffering Victim per century, and as Isabella of France has the fourteenth century covered and Anne Neville the fifteenth, I'm really not sure we'll ever get anywhere. Until the next session, folks!


sami parkkonen said...


as for the guys complaining:

"What about me, then? How many of you have had so much s**t poured over your name than mine? with not so good wishes: Richard III".

Anonymous said...

Very funny. However, if there can be only one per century, why are so many women treated as victims of Henry VIII?


Kathryn Warner said...

Well, I was being sarcastic, not literal! And I don't know a lot about the 16th century.