David Starkey, Kendal and 'My Lady the King's Mother'

David Starkey, speaking at CCHT’s first public lecture, kept a capacity audience enthralled with his story of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother.  In a virtuoso display of historical brilliance, psychological insight and witty asides drawing parallels between the Tudors and today’s politicians, Dr Starkey showed how Lady Margaret’s financial base was built upon her northern estates, of which Kendal was the jewel, and which unusually for a woman of the period she managed herself.  The victim of what today would be called child abuse, Margaret was left a heavily pregnant widow at thirteen, while the later difficult birth of her son left her incapable of having more children.  Throughout the turbulent years which followed, leading up to her son’s coup in 1485, she worked behind the scenes in her son’s interest.  And twenty years later, when it became clear she would outlive her son, she stage-managed the smooth succession of her grandson, Henry VIII.  Dr Starkey’s vivid account of the period will live long in the memories of all those who packed out the Rheged Discovery Centre’s large lecture hall.