Richard Neville Earl of Warwick had two daughters – Isabel and Anne who he sought to marry to best advantage so that one day a Neville grandchild would rule England and Wales. He was thwarted by politics and the death of Anne’s son Edward of Middleham. Isabel’s son spent most of his short life as a captive before being executed by King Henry VII.
When he was about twenty-two the Kingmaker who had been married to his countess since they were both children became father for the first time to another daughter called Margaret who was born before the Countess gave birth to her eldest daughter Isabel. If Margaret was born in 1450 she would have been fourteen when married Sir Richard Huddleston of Millom. He was twenty-four. As well as land in Coverdale worth £6 pa Warwick dowered his daughter with the manors of Blennerhasset and Upmanby in Cumberland.
The Kingmaker had three grandchildren from the strategic northern match he made for his illegitimate daughter. Richard, Margaret and Joan. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Richard’s northern family were on good terms with their legitimate half siblings as Margaret can be found as one of Queen Anne Neville’s ladies, indeed at the coronation she preceded many more gently born ladies and received a gift from the king. This familial closeness raises the possibility that Margaret was raised at least in part with her half-sisters at Middleham.
More detailed information about Margaret’s family can be found here:
In the Spring of 1470, England was facing a fresh round of the intermittent warfare that punctuated the Wars of the Roses. The Earl of Warwick’s relationship with King Edward IV had been strained to breaking point the previous year and although the Kingmaker had captured and imprisoned his cousin he had been forced to let him go. There had been an apparent reconciliation. In reality Warwick plotted to overthrow the king and replace him with his son-in-law, George Duke of Clarence. He method for bringing this about involved the Welles family and the men of Lincolnshire.
Lord Richard Welles was the seventh Lord Welles descended from a family of Lincolnshire magnates. He was the son of staunch Lancastrian, Lionel. The sixth Lord is best remembered for his second wife, Margaret Beauchamp, the mother of Lady Margaret Beaufort. Lionel was killed at the Battle of Towton.
Lionel was born in 1410 and was knighted in 1425 at Leicester by the Duke of Bedford who knighted King Henry VI at the same time. In 1446 he received a licence to marry Margaret Beauchamp, the Duke of Somerset’s widow. His loyalty to the Lancastrian cause was absolute. His heir, Richard and his sons-in-law were attainted by Parliament for their support of the Lancastrian cause but as the Yorkist king became reconciled to former Lancastrian supporters the Welles family land and titles were returned.
However by the ninth year of Edward’s reign relations between the Welles and the Yorkist king of England nose dived. Richard and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Dymmock either became involved with a private feud with Sir Thomas Burgh who was the king’s Master of Horse or they were inveigled to rebellion by the Earl of Warwick who was also a kinsman ( Richard’s wife was a granddaughter of the 3rd Earl of Salisbury as well as being suo jure Lady Willoughby.) In either event, they attacked Gainsburgh Old Hall which was Burgh’s property and the Master of Horse was forced to flee the county whilst his property was looted or destroyed. King Edward summoned both men to London. Initially pleading illness, the pair then took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey only emerging with a royal promise of a pardon – which was granted on 3 March 1470. The pardon did not give them their freedom. Edward marched north and took the two men with him as collateral.
In Lincolnshire, Sir Richard’s son, Robert raised an army calling the men of Lincolnshire to defend themselves against the king, who is was said was determined to punish the county for supporting Robin of Redesdale’s rebellion the previous year (1469). If he had done this it would have meant that he intended to go back on the pardon he granted the rebels the previous year. Robin of Redesdale is a shadowy figure. Most historians believe that the rebellion was fermented by the Earl of Warwick for his own ends. In 1470, the Earl of Warwick was plotting the overthrow of the king who was marching north. The earl planned to trap Edward between Welles’ army and his own.
King Edward was not so easily outmanoeuvred. He marched out of London along the Great North Road in the direction of Lincolnshire but he threatened to have Robert’s father and uncle executed if Welles did not submit to the king’s will. By then Robert and his men were on course to render-vous with Warwick’s army. On hearing the king’s threat, Robert turned back, the king catching up with him just outside Stamford. The two armies drew up opposite one another on the 12th March 1470 at Empingham. Edward gave orders for Lord Welles and his brother-in-law to be summarily executed in the space between the two armies. Other sources state that Edward had the two men executed in Stamford.
The battle became a rout with rebels fleeing the field. Hoping to avoid capture and punishment they shed their jerkins which bore the insignia of Warwick and Clarence. This resulted in the battle being renamed Losecoat during the nineteenth century. As a direct consequence of Welles failure to win the battle the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence were forced to flee the country.
Sir Robert was captured and confessed the involvement of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence on the 14 March. Further incriminating evidence was found amongst Welles’ documents. It appeared that Warwick intended to make his son-in-law the King of England and Wales in Edward’s place. Sir Robert was executed on 19 March and his only surviving sibling Joan became heiress to her brother’s estates. Strictly Welles’ land was forfeit to the Crown, and it was confiscated a month after Sir Robert’s execution but it was returned to Joan in June that year. Joan died sometime in 1474/1475 and a formal act of attainder was passed against Lord Welles and his son in order to prevent Joan’s inheritance going back into the Welles family. Joan was married to Richard Hastings, the brother of Edward’s drinking buddy and Chamberlain of the Household circa 1470. Hastings ensured the king provided Joan, now suo jure 9th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby with her father and brother’s estates. After her death the regime ensured that Hastings didn’t lose out. It also meant that a large chunk of Lincolnshire was held by a loyal Yorkist.
It was only on the accession of King Henry VII that the attainder against the Welles family was reversed and John Welles, Joan and Robert’s uncle from their father’s second marriage inherited the titles and estates along with their cousin Christopher Willoughby. Even so, Sir Richard Hastings, who died in 1503 continued to be known as Lord Willoughby, a title which should have more properly belonged to Christopher Willoughby whose mother Cecily was a daughter of Lionel, 6th Lord Welles, who died at Towton.
And before I finish… if the name Willoughby is ringing bells its because Christopher’s son married Katherine of Aragon’s loyal lady in waiting Maria de Salinas. The couple had only one child, Katherine, who was a sole heiress to the Willoughby title and estates. She was supposed to have married the Duke of Suffolk’s son but instead found herself married to the duke, Charles Brandon, who was significantly older than she was. In 1546, after she was widowed there were rumours that King Henry VIII wanted to make her wife number seven, even though wife number six was alive and well at the time.
Ann Neville and her sister were descended through their mother from Roger Mortimer 1st Earl of March – the one who rebelled against Edward II, escaped for the Tower, came to an arrangement with Edwad’s wife Isabella of France , deposed the king, became regent and was finally executed for treason – it’s quite a resume when all’s said and done.
Suffice it to say that for a short while he was the most powerful man in England but Katherine’s marriage had taken place before her father became the focus for rebels angry with the king and his favourites. He was very much in the king’s camp on the side of Edward, the king’s cousin and rival Thomas of Lancaster being a rival of the Mortimers in the Marches. It helped that Mortimer had once been the ward of Piers Galveston, the king’s murdered favourite.
Mortimer went to Ireland and following the Scottish victory at Bannockburn in 1314 faced Robert the Bruce’s brother Edward. In December 1315 he lost the Battle of Kells before returning to the marches where he was required to put down a Welsh uprising.
As a consequence Mortimer’s star began to rise at court and he set about consolidating his own inheritance as well as the lands he acquired by his marriage to Joan de Geneville. One such consolidation involved settling a dispute with the Beauchamp family over the lordship of Elfael. The dispute arose when one of Mortimer’s vassals died in 1315. The argument lived on even after the Earl of Warwick who claimed the land for his own died the following year. The matter was concluded with the marriage of his young daughter Katherine to Thomas Beauchamp, who had become the earl of Warwick at the age of two, and who was just three years old at the time the agreement was made. Warwick became Mortimer’s ward so young Katherine did not need to leave her home at Ludlow Castle when she was initially married. A papal dispensation as required as the young couple shared a common ancestor within the prohibited degree. A similarly advantageous marriage was made by Mortimer for another daughter Joan to James Audley, the grandson of another marcher lord. As one of eight daughters and four sons Katherine was part of Mortimer’s plan to secure his role in the marches.
Katherine escaped the wrath of Edward II when her three older sisters Margaret, Joan and Isabella were sent to a nunnery in 1324. Unlike Despenser’s daughters they were not forced to take the veil and they were released when Mortimer assumed power with Isabella in 1327. And already being married to an earl, Katherine was not part of her father’s plans to marry off his children to arrange marriages into the royal family and to other rich and powerful men. Beatrice Mortimer found herself married to Edward I’s grandson.
Katherine, who was just sixteen when her father was executed, had a large family of some fifteen children with her husband. Nor did Edward III hold a grudge against the daughter of his father’s enemy. She rose to become a significant part of the royal household whilst her husband became a military commander of the Hundred Years War as well as being one of the founding members of the Order of the Garter. She died on August 4th 1369 having made her will leaving £20 to the friars of Shrewsbury. Three months later her husband died in Calais from the Black Death. His body was transported home and the earl was buried beside Katherine in St Mary’s Church, Warwick. The church was rebuilt by the earl using loot from his victories in France. It was said that rebuilding began with the payment of a ransom from the Archbishop of Sens. Their tomb shows the couple holding hands.
Ian Mortimer (2004) The Greatest Traitor: the Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330
Anne, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as the ‘kingmaker’ was married to both Margaret of Anjou’s son, the Lancastrian heir to the throne and after this death at the Battle of Tewkesbury to Richard of Gloucester, the last Yorkist king.
Anne and her older sister Isabel grew up at Middleham where they met George of Clarence and Richard. Unfortunately their father’s relationship with George and Richard’s brother, King Edward IV soured after Edward married Elizabeth Woodville. In 1470, Warwick switched sides resulting in Anne’s marriage to Edward of Lancaster.
Following Warwick’s death at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471, Isabel and Anne became co-heiresses but their mother Anne Beauchamp, who was descended from the Despensers, had first to be declared legally dead before George could access his wife’s inheritance as Richard Neville was earl in jure uxoris. Anne remained countess of Warwick until her death in 1492 but her estates were nobbled by her sons-in-law, although in order to marry Anne, Richard effectively forewent much of his share. Anne had effectively become the ward of George and had no intention of sharing the kingmaker’s estates with anyone. Anne was probably destined for a nunnery but in the meantime the story went that she was hidden in the kitchens.
Richard, not known for his lack of perseverance, arranged for Anne to go into sanctuary and for a dispensation from the pope permitting their marriage. The wedding took place in 1472 and the couple returned to Middleham. Eventually Anne Beauchamp was permitted to join them. Isabel died in 1476 as a result of complications from childbirth or from TB. Anne Neville acquired some of her sisters estates as well as all but adopting her young son Edward.
Edward IV died in April 1483 and Richard was crowned in July having revealed to the world that Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville bigamously, rendering Edward V and his siblings illegitimate. Anne was crowned with him. Their only child, another Edward, became Prince of Wales. He died in Middleham in 1484 whilst his parents were journeying north to visit him. Anne, grieving for her only child, became unwell, probably from TB, and died in March 1485. She was buried in Westminster Abbey – Richard was said to have wept at her funeral although rumour already painted him as a wife killer plotting to marry his own niece. On the day Anne died there was a solar eclipse – it was said afterwards that Richard lost his favour with Heaven on the day his wife died.
King Richard II
The relationships between the children of Edward III, their spouses and their descendants ultimately resulted in the Wars of the Roses. During the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV various families with royal blood in their veins jockeyed for power, position and wealth. Some of this vying for power was through political negotiation. There were the inevitable marriages for land and to tie families together and of course there were rebellions.
There are so many strands that it’s difficult to know where to start.
This evening I shall take a “random” look at the Lords Appellants whosought to impeach Richard II’s favourites in 1386 and ultimately managed to control the king as a figurehead without any real power until Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt returned to England in 1389 having been absent during the period of turmoil. There were five Lords Appellant. The three primary appellants were Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester; Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel and Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.
Thomas of Woodstock: London, British Library Cotton MS Nero D.VIII, f. 0
Thomas of Woodstock was the youngest surviving son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainhault – Richard II’s uncle. He was also the uncle of the fourth Appellant Henry of Bolingbroke Earl of Derby and Hereford. Henry was John of Gaunt’s son. He and Richard were first cousins. Indeed there was only three months between them so as Ian Mortimer says in his biography of Henry IV the two of them must have been well acquainted.
Richard FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel‘s mother was Eleanor of Lancaster, a great grand-daughter of Henry III. He was also related though the maternal line to the Beauchamps. His wife was Mary de Bohun’s aunt. Mary de Bohun was married to Henry of Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby. I’m not going to work out the exact relationship but there’s a tangled knot of cousinship and in-lawship – so best to describe him as part of the extended kinship of Richard II.
Thomas Beauchamp, the 12th Earl of Warwick was the son of Katherine Mortimer. His grandfather was Roger Mortimer, the Earl of March who became Isabella of France’s lover and deposed her husband King Edward II. So far so good, however, the Mortimers had married into the Plantagenet family when Edward III’s granddaughter Philippa, Countess of Ulster married Edmund Mortimer. Edmund was the grandson of Roger Mortimer mentioned earlier in this paragraph.
Feeling slightly dizzy? Well just to knot the families even more firmly together Philippa and Edmund Mortimer had four children. One of these children (the great grandchildren of Edward III), was a daughter also called Philippa (she was first cousin once removed of Richard II if you want to be picky). She became the second wife of Richard FitzAlan, the Earl of Arundel…yes, the Lord Appellant. Elizabeth de Bohun died in 1385. The marriage to Philippa took place in 1390 after the Lords Appellant had been forced to allow Richard to regain his power. The marriage was without royal licence and the earl was fined for not asking the king for Philippa’s hand first.
Richard II creating Thomas Mowbray Earl Marshal in 1386. British Library Cotton MS NERO D VI f.85r
For neatness sake the fifth Lord Appellant was Thomas Mowbray, the Earl of Nottingham. He was descended from Edward I – so another cousin of sorts. His wife was the Earl of Arundel’s daughter Elizabeth by his first wife Elizabeth de Bohun – making her a first cousin of Henry of Bolingbroke’s wife Mary de Bohun. You might find it helpful to draw a diagram!
If nothing else it becomes apparent that everyone powerful during this period was related to the other leading families in the land either through blood or through marriage. Interactions between historical figures of this period lay in the overlap between familial interaction and political interaction – the one influencing the other.
With that in mind I shall spend the period between now and Christmas exploring familial Plantagenet links – preferably with diagrams and possibly a large gin! You can read the posts with a drink of your choice in hand!
Mortimer, Ian. The Fears of Henry IV
Weir, Alison. British Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy
Bamburgh Castle perched on the edge of Budle Bay is another of the Percy castles but its history is much longer than that. It was home to Gospatrick Earl of Northumbria at the time of the Norman Conquest. He was eventually forced to submit to the Conqueror. Bamburgh was handed over to the Bishop of Durham. Sources differ as to whether it was William the Conqueror who built the first castle on the site or the bishop. Suffice it to say that by the reign of Henry II after several changes of ownership it was in Crown hands – Henry II funded the great keep and it became a venue for a number of Plantagenet visitors.
Now is not the time to discuss the politics of the English East March or the rivalry between the Nevilles and the Percies. Suffice it to say that Bamburgh was a Lancastrian Castle during the Wars of the Roses. Following the Battle of Towton in 1461 Bamburgh, Alnwick, Warkworth and Dunstanburgh remained in the hands of the Lancastrians. This meant that Edward IV was not secure from Scottish incursions or from Lancastrian forces landing along the coast.
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick , a.k.a. The Kingmaker besieged Bamburgh and it surrendered in July 1462. Unfortunately for the Yorkists Margaret of Anjou landed with troop in October with french mercenaries – the Yorkist garrison now promptly handed themselves and Bamburgh over to the Lancastrians. Edward IV now came north and Margaret decamped to Scotland leaving Sir Ralph Percy and Henry Beaufort (Duke of Somerset) in charge of the castle. There was another short siege and in December the castle was once again in Yorkist hands.
Ralph Percy, the garrison commander, was allowed to swear allegiance to Edward IV. Edward wanted the Percy family on his side but by the new year Ralph had concluded that he preferred the Lancastrian cause to that of the Yorkists and the Nevilles who were, after all, long time enemies of the Percies. In March 1463 Bamburgh was back in the hands of Margaret of Anjou. In the North East of the country 1463 was a year of sieges and intermittent warfare orchestrated by Margaret and her Scottish allies but by the end of the year the politically savvy Scots had organised a truce with the Yorkists.
It says something that during 1462-1464 Henry VI was at Bamburgh at various times. In1464 looked as though the Lancastrians might be on firmer ground when the Duke of Somerset changed sides once again. John Neville, the Kingmaker’s younger brother now came north and a battle was fought at Hedgeley Moor in April 1464 followed dup by the Battle of Hexham the following month. Neville defeated the Duke of Somerset who was captured and promptly executed. Henry VI left Bywell Castle the day after the Battle of Hexham and went into hiding in the uplands of Northumbria and Cumberland.
The Northumbrian castles that had remained Lancastrian now surrendered but Bamburgh in the hands of Sir Ralph Grey remained obdurate. In part this was because he had been Yorkist in 1463 and having changed sides permitted the Lancastrians back into Alnwick – making this post feel rather like a game of musical castles. The Yorkists told him that they would execute him just as soon as they could – oddly enough this did’t encourage him to surrender nor did the information that one man would be executed for every cannon ball fired at the castle – Nine months, many canon balls and a collapsing tower later Bamburgh had no choice but to capitualte making it the first castle in England to be defeated by the power of artillery. And it wouldn’t have surrendered even then, had Sir Ralph not been knocked senseless and his second in command taken the opportunity to surrender whilst Sir Ralph was out for the count.
The Earl of Warwick didn’t carry out his threat to execute one man per cannon ball but Grey was executed in July. After the fall of Bamburgh the Yorkists more or less controlled the whole country with the exception of Harlech Castle and a few isolated pockets.
I had thought three parts to this little series but having written today’s post which is largely about the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries I shall be extending it to four parts.
Generation 10 of Topcliffe/2 of Alnwick:
Henry Percy Junior was only sixteen when his father died in 1314. Initially John de Felton held his lands in ward but by the time he was twenty Edward II had granted Henry more lands in Northumbria than his father held. These had been part of Patrick Earl of March’s territory. Patrick was Scottish and the land offer reflects the way in which northern territories fluctuated between Scotland and England during troubled times. Henry was no more impressed with Edward II’s choice of male favourite than his father had been nor with the foreign policy and military prowess that saw the Scots raiding deep into Yorkshire.
In no particular order, Percy conspired against the Despensers and was made governor of both Pickering and Scarborough Castle. The northern Percy powerhouse was further built upon when he married into the Clifford family and Edward III granted him Warkwarth Castle. In 1346 he was one of the English commanders at the Battle of Neville’s Cross near Durham against the Scots which must have been a bit irritating given that he had gone to Scotland in 1327 to help negotiate a peace treaty with them.
Generation 3 of Alnwick:
The next generation Henry Percy was at the Battle of Crecy – so should probably be regarded as the Hundred Years War Percy. His correct title was the 3rdBaron Percy of Alnwick. His first wife was Mary of Lancaster – the best way of thinking of her is as Blanche of Lancaster’s aunt. Blanche was the first wife of John of Gaunt who is commemorated in the Book of the Duchess by Chaucer and whose land ensured that Gaunt was the wealthiest man in the country. Mary was a daughter of Henry III. With each marriage the Percy family made the wealth and the prestige of the family rose, as did the amount of land that they held and their proximity to the throne.
Generation 4 of Alnwick – 1stEarl of Northumberland:
The Percy family now found itself elevated to the earldom of Northumberland – after all Mary of Lancaster was a Plantagenet princess so it is only reasonable to suppose that her first born son should have a sufficiently impressive title. The first earl, yet another Henry Percy, was born in 1341. He supported Edward III and then he supported Richard II in his various official capacities on the borders. It was Richard who created him an earl at his coronation in 1377. Unfortunately despite being having been married to Margaret Neville, Percy was distinctly un-amused when his power base was eroded by Richard II who created his rival (and nephew-in-law) Ralph Neville the earl of Westmorland. The First Earl of Northumberland now had a hissy fit because of the creation of the First Earl of Westmorland. He swapped sides.Instead of backing Richard II against his enemies he supported Henry of Bolingbroke, John of Gaunt’s son, against Richard II.Bolingbroke duly became Henry IV and Percy found himself swaggering around with the title Constable of England.
Unfortunately in 1403 the earl swapped sides once more. He was slightly irritated by the outcome of the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1402. It was an English-Scots match that the English won. Percy stood to make rather a lot of cash from ransoming his Scottish prisoners. Unfortunately Henry IV was feeling the financial pinch and besides which felt that the Percys had too much power in the north. So he demanded all the hostages and gave Percy a fraction of their value. The earl was underwhelmed but didn’t immediately voice his irritation.
Having been given the task of subduing the Welsh in 1403, Percy and his son Harry Hotspur now joined with Owain Glyndwr. Hotspur died at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 but Henry IV couldn’t pin anything on the earl who hadn’t taken part in the battle. The most that Henry IV could do was remove the office of constable from Percy who didn’t learn the lesson and continued to conspire against Henry IV.In 1405 Percy decided to take a long holiday in Scotland for the sake of his health. He took Hotspur’s son with him. The earl returned to England in 1408 where he managed to get himself killed at the Battle of Bramham Moor near Tadcaster. This was the final battle in the Percy family rebellion against cousin Henry IV.
2ndEarl of Northumberland:
Hotspur’s son another Henry had spent most of his childhood in Scotland because both his father and grandfather were at loggerheads with the monarch. Very sensibly after his grandfather was killed the second earl remained safely in Scotland. It was only when Henry IV died that Henry Percy took the opportunity to be reconciled with the Crown. He was officially recognised as the 2ndearl in 1413.
He arrived back in England and settled down to a spot of feuding with his Neville relations. The Nevilles, particularly Richard Neville (aka the Kingmaker) and his father the Earl of Salisbury were associated with Richard of York so naturally the Percy family supported Henry VI and the Duke of Somerset. Ironically the 2ndearl’s mother was Elizabeth Mortimer, the grand-daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, so you would have thought that he would have been more sympathetic to Richard of York who based his claims on his descent from Lionel. Not only that but his return to the earldom had been smoothed by Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. She also arranged his marriage to Eleanor Neville – her second daughter with the Earl of Westmorland – making the Earl of Salisbury Percy’s brother-in-law and the Kingmaker his nephew. Talk about a tangled family web.
I’ve blogged about Eleanor Neville and the Battle of Heworth Moor before so there is no need to write about it again.Enough to say that it demonstrates the depths to which the feud had sunk. And things were about to get worse. The earl was born in 1393 and died on 22 May 1455 at the First Battle of St Albans. It was a comprehensive victory for the Yorkists and according to the chronicles of the time an opportunity for Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, to settle some personal scores – the death of the Earl of Northumberland being on his “to do” list. Obviously it didn’t help the relations between the Percy and Neville families as the Wars of the Roses spiralled towards the bloodiest battle in English history.
3rd Earl of Northumberland:
Another Henry Percy, swearing vengeance for his father’s death was one of the commanders of the army that surrounded Richard of York and the Earl of Salisbury at Wakefield.The deaths of Richard, his son Edmund and the Earl of Salisbury on the 30 December 1460 were part of the continuing vendetta.
The victors of Wakefield were now joined by Margaret of Anjou’s army. They marched south and won the Second Battle of St Albans but stopped short of taking London. Various armies marched back and forth but for the purposes of this post the next time we need to focus is at the Battle of Ferrybridge – 27 March 1461.Northumberland was supposed to stop the Yorkists from crossing the River Aire at Castleford whilst Lord Clifford held Ferrybridge for the Lancastrians. Lets just say that Northumberland arrived at Castleford late allowing Lord Fauconberg and his men to cross the river and come around behind the Lancastrians who retreated to Dintingdale (28th March) where Lord Clifford was killed by an arrow.
On the 29thMarch 1461, blinded by a snowstorm the 3rdEarl commanded the van of the Lancastrian army. Closing with the enemy he was killed.
Edward IV was now the only king in England and issued an act of attainder against all the Lancastrian nobility who had fought at Towton. Edward now rewarded the Nevilles who supported the House of York and punished the Percys who supported the house of Lancaster.
John Neville, Earl of Northumberland.
John was the Kingmaker’s younger brother. He was created Earl of Northumberland in 1464 after he had spent three years finishing off the Lancastrian threat in the north.Unfortunately for John, the Kingmaker became increasingly dissatisfied with Edward IV who, in return, became increasingly suspicious of his cousin. In 1470 Edward removed John from post and gave him the tile the Marquis of Montagu and assorted lands to compensate for the loss of the earldom of Northumberland.It did not go down well with the Neville family who did not see any need for the balance of power in the North to be restored by the return of the Percy family.
Edward was forced to flee his realm in October 1470 but returned in 1471. John had not regained his title to Northumberland despite his brother effectively ruling England with a puppet king in the form of Henry VI on the throne. Rather than attack Edward when he landed at Ravenspur, Neville simply shadowed the returned Yorkist king. Ulitmately Neville would died at the Battle of Barnet along with his brother.
4thEarl of Northumberland:
Henry Percy (what a surprise) was imprisoned in the Fleet Prison in the aftermath of Towton (he was about 12 at the time) and from there he was sent to the Tower in 1464.In 1469 after swearing fealty to Edward IVhe was released. He then set about trying to get his estates returned. He petitioned for the reversal of his father’s attainder though this was not granted by Parliament until 1473.
Interestingly his wife was Maud Herbert, the girl who Henry Tudor should have married had events not unfolded as they did in 1470. They had eleven children.
Henry Percy went back to doing what the Earls of Northumberland had been doing for a very long time – i.e. ruling vast tracts of land and skirmishing with the Scots. He held many of the important government posts in the north of England which were traditional in his family including from 10 May 1483, as protector, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, confirmed the fourth earl of Northumberland’s appointment as warden-general of the east and middle marches ‘during the space and time of a whole year’, after which it was renewed for five months but perhaps it would appear not as much power from Richard III as he had hoped. Naturally enough he fought at Bosworth where he commanded the right wing of Richard III’s army. The Percys were naturally Lancastrian by inclination. Percy’s father and grandfather had died for Henry VI. Some historians says that Percy betrayed Richard IIIby holding his forces back from action. Percy’s northern levies weren’t committed to the battle.
If Northumberland had been a metaphorical spoke in Richard’s wheel he wasn’t very well rewarded by Henry Tudor who now became Henry VII.Northumberland, along with the earls of Westmoreland and Surrey was taken into custody and kept in prison for several months, being released only under strict conditions of good behaviour. He was restored to his position as warden but with curtailed powers. Henry may not have trusted him but Percy knew how to protect England’s northern border. He was also at hand to help defeat the Yorkist forces that gathered during the Lambert Simnel rebellion in 1487.
In 1489 Northumberland was part of the king’s administration gathering £100,000 of tax. This led to the Yorkshire Rebellion. Northumberland had to deal with the resistance of Yorkshiremen to the tenth of incomes demanded for Henry’s Breton war and for the raising of a force against the Scots. Things can’t have gone well for the Earl as his own tenants were up in arms. He was so alarmed that on Saturday, 24 April, he wrote to Sir Robert Plumpton from Seamer, close to Scarborough, ordering him to secretly bring as many armed men as he could to Thirsk by the following Monday. It didn’t do him much good.
On Wednesday, 28 April, having gathered a force estimated at eight hundred men, he came into conflict with the commons, whose ringleader was one John a Chamber, near Thirsk, at a place variously called Cockledge or Blackmoor Edge, and was killed. Popular history claims it wasn’t so much the tax collection that irritated the locals as the fact that as good Yorkshire men their loyalty lay with Richard III.
Edward Seymour (born about 1500) the eldest surviving son of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire was following the court trajectory of many other Tudor men in terms of patronage and a slow climb up the social ladder until his sister, Jane Seymour, caught the eye of Henry VIII at which point Thomas Cromwell moved out of his accommodation to make way for Edward and his wife Ann Stanhope so that the king could speak privately to Jane whilst chaperoned by her family. Once Jane became queen Edward swiftly acquired some nifty new titles.
The trajectory of his rise can be seen in the manner of his address in 1523 he became Sir Edward when he was knighted by the Duke of Suffolk when he went with him on campaign to France. In 1536 the king made him Viscount Beauchamp and then in 1537 the Earl of Hertford. In 1542 he became the Lord High Admiral but really he was a soldier and he handed that position back when the Scots repudiated the Treaty of Greenwich which had been made in the aftermath of the Battle of Solway Moss. In 1544 he headed north for a spot of Rough Wooing, sailed into Leith and burned Edinburgh. He also won a victory against the French at Boulogne in 1546. He gained a reputation for military efficiency.
On 27 January 1547 Henry VIII died leaving a regency council to care for is son, the new king Edward VI. Sir Edward had no desire to share power with the rest of the Privy Council and promptly managed to wangle the post of Lord Protector based on the fact that he was the new king’s uncle and had a reputation as a soldier in both Scotland and France. He also dished out a new title for himself becoming the Duke of Somerset on February 16 1547. He then edged the Privy Council out even more into the cold by drawing up Letters Patent that his nine-year-old nephew signed decreeing that he only need call on the services of the Privy Council when he thought it was necessary. Needless to say this resulted in resentment and would ultimately leave him isolated. Thomas Wriothesley the chancellor and newly minted Earl of Southampton protested. He found himself being deprived of the chancellorship for his pains.
Essentially historians are torn about the Lord Protector. Many of them see him as highly principled and concerned for the care of the poor within England’s realm. It was he who issued the proclamation saying that hedges and fences enclosing common land should be removed. Others see him as failing to take the necessary command and control of the situation – when Kett’s Rebellion erupted in 1549 it was because they believed they were following the Protector’s instructions in demolishing the new enclosures. It didn’t help that there were a series of bad harvests and that inflation was rampant.
There was also the tricky matter of his difficult relationship with his little brother Sir Thomas who was jealous of Edward and did everything he could to make life difficult for the Lord Protector.
Edward Seymour even managed to please no one in religious terms when he tried to steer a middle path between Catholics and Protestants and failed to please either group when as part of Cranmer’s reforms he instituted the Common Prayer Book in English resulting in the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549 when the population of the west Country rose up in protest at the english content of church services. Calvinists didn’t think he went far enough even though he banned the lighting of candles and got rid of a number of holidays and suppressed the chantries.
Meanwhile so far as foreign affairs were concerned Somerset had tried initially to suggest that the Scots should enter a union voluntarily with England and when that failed he headed north and induced in a bit of Scot bashing – the Battle of Pinkie occurred on September 10 1547 and was an English victory but resulted ultimately in the Scots sending their little queen to France for safety which was what Henri II wanted but which was not what the English wanted as the country once more became the bone between the two dogs. The cost of the war was prohibitive as was the need for a standing army. By the end of the period the borders between England and Scotland were back at their Henrican starting point.
Somerset’s rival on the council, John Dudley, the Earl of Warwick was able to bide his time and draw on the support of all the people that Somerset had managed to irritate including Edward VI. Somerset realised what was happening and headed off to Windsor from Hampton Court with Edward VI on 1 October 1549 but when it became clear that if he stood his ground that it would result in faction, feud and blood shed he “came quietly” as the newspapers would say. The people who supported I’m were the ones without power or influence. Seymour was arrested on the 11th of October on charges that included ambition and followings own authority.
Somerset and his faction were toppled but after a time in prison Somerset was allowed to return to the Privy Council which he had managed to alienate by not conferring with them. Unfortunately for him he tried to law back his position so found himself under arrest for treason along with the Earl of Arundel. Dudley claimed that Somerset intended to capture the Tower of London and then raise rebellion around the country. There was no evidence but it didn’t matter.
Somerset was found guilty and executed on 22 January 1552. The people of London were ordered to stay indoors on the morning of Edward Seymour’s execution but a huge number of people turned out, many of them sobbing. When some soldiers arrived late there was a cry that “the good Duke” was to be spared but it was Seymour who calmed the crowd and explained that there would be no reprieve.Certainly his nephew Edward VI does not spare his uncles blushes in his journal and is completely, apparently, unmoved by his execution in 1552 simply noting that he had had his head chopped off.
Weir, Alison. (2009)Children of England: the Heirs of Henry VIIILondon: Jonathan Cape
Cecily, the youngest child of Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville, was born on 3 May 1415 at Raby Castle. Like the rest of her siblings an advantageous marriage was arranged for her by her parents. She was possibly married by 1427 to Richard of York when she reached the age of twelve certainly she had become betrothed to her father’s ward when she was nine and Richard was thirteen.
Once she became a duchess Cecily was required to leave her childhood behind her in Raby and fulfil court duties wherever Henry VI resided or else to run their main residence of Fotheringhay Castle. With the patronage of the king’s aunt Richard whose father had been executed for his part in the Southampton Plot was able to regain lands which had been forfeit. Cecily’s accounts and correspondence reveal that she was busy in helping her husband run his estates and also in the running up of bills – Cecily appears to be rather a heavy shopper who did not stint on expensive fabrics and jewels. In 1443-44 she spent £608 on clothes – Richard kept a close eye on her spending and probably had a long discussion about the need to buy matched pearls when he saw the bill.
The couple’s first child, a daughter called Anne was born in 1439. Two years later Richard became governor general of France and the couple moved to Rouen. It was in Rouen where Cecily’s son Edward was born. A later smear campaign would suggest that an archer called Blaybourne was Edward’s father rather than the duke – evidence for this particular conspiracy theory comes from the fact that Edward’s baptism was a low key affair unlike that of his younger brother Edmund and that Richard was elsewhere waging war on the key dates. Amy Licence observes that if Edward was premature this would not apply and would explain why he was baptised quickly and without fuss. She also notes that the concept of full term is a moveable feast and that equally Cecily could have been pregnant when she arrived in France making the evidence of Richard’s location an irrelevance. The fact that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and even George, Duke of Clarence made the accusation is really neither here nor there given the circumstances in which they decided to have doubts about Edward’s right to be king…that would be just before they staged their rebellion in 1469. It was reported at the time by the Milanese ambassador. Michael Hicks speculates as to whether Cecily may have assisted in the campaign to remove Edward from the throne. It would have to be said, does it really matter very much in any event as Richard of York acknowledged Edward as his son?
Whilst in Rouen Cecily would have two more children and become the hostess of Margaret of Anjou in 1445 after Henry VI had married her by proxy. Shortly after that Cecily returned to England and her family continued to expand. In 1447 Richard was appointed Lieutenant of Ireland, Cecily went with him to Dublin, but his relationship with Henry VI was becoming increasingly difficult. Richard began to liken himself to Henry VI’s uncle Good Duke Humphrey as he was excluded from what he saw as his rightful share of power.
Cecily inevitably became embroiled in the Wars of the Roses being present in Ludlow after the Battle of Ludford Bridge in 1559. Richard’s flight with Cecily’s brother and nephew resulted in him being attainted for treason. Cecily lost everything and was sent off to stay with her sister Anne, Duchess of Buckingham. Cecily was permitted to attend the Coventry parliament where her husband was attainted in order to plead his cause to the king. Whilst Richard was attainted his men were only fined and Henry VI issued 1000 marks a year for her upkeep and that of her children.
The following year the wheel of Fortune turned once again. Richard of York, the earls of Salisbury and Warwick returned to England. Briefly Cecily was a finger’s tip away from the crown. John Harding’s chronicle compares Margaret of Anjou with Proud Cis and concludes Cecily was a more appropriate sort of queen not least because she was under her husband’s control (clearly the chronicler hadn’t received word of Cecily’s shopping trips). Of course, it all went hideously wrong and Richard ended up with his head on York’s city wall wearing a paper crown in the aftermath of the Battle of Wakefield (30 December 1460).
Once her son Edward became king after the Battle of Towton (29 March 1461) she was effectively the first lady of the court until such time as he married. Her relationship with sister Anne can perhaps be seen in the fact that one of the first things that was done was to confirm Anne’s dower rights as Duchess of Buckingham. Edward also ensured that he wouldn’t have to worry about his mother’s desire for rich clothing and jewellery. He gave her lands valued at 5,000 marks a year. She was one of the wealthiest women in England. She had additional income from customs revenue on wool.
Cecily even styled herself “queen by right,” after Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville became public knowledge – much to her irritation; like the Earl of Warwick she had been working towards an alliance with a European princess.
As the end of the 1460’s approached festering family resentments erupted into rebellion. Cecily’s relationship with Edward became increasingly difficultand in 1478 when Edward had George drowned in a vat of Malmsey Cecily left court and stayed away until Edward died. The Yorkist matriarch then supported her son Richard in bypassing the claims of her grandsons who were declared illegitimate. With the death of Richard at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485 Cecily retired from public life and took holy vows.
Cecily died on 31 May 1495 having outlived all her sons and all but two of her daughters. She had lived the last years of her life along religious lines – giving rise to a reputation for piety. She had been the mother of two kings and was the grandmother of Henry VII’s queen. She was buried in Fotheringhay next to her husband. Their tomb was broken down during the Reformation but re-established by her two times great grand-daughter Elizabeth I.
Laynesmith, J.L. Cecily Duchess of York
Amy License. (2015) Cecily Neville: Mother of Kings. Stroud: Amberley Publishing
Eleanor was born in about 1397 to Joan Beaufort and Ralph Neville, 1st earl of Westmorland. Eleanor, like the rest of her sisters, was married off to another cousin – Richard le Despenser- who if you want to be exact was her second cousin. His mother was Constance of York who was the daughter of John of Gaunt’s younger brother Edmund of Langley, Duke of York.
The pair were married some time after 1412 but he died in 1414 aged only seventeen. He’s buried in Tewkesbury Abbey along with his other more notorious Despenser ancestors – his two times great grandfather was Hugh Despenser who was Edward II’s favourite. Once again though the Nevilles’ had made a wealthy match for their child. The Despensers were amongst the wealthiest families in the country and were also Plantagenet in ancestry thanks to Constance.
Richard’s early death meant that the title of Baron Burghersh, which he had inherited from Constance, passed to Richard’s sister Isabella. Just from point of interest it is worth noting that she would marry the Earl of Warwick and in turn her daughter, Anne Beauchamp, would marry a certain Richard Neville – better known to history as the Kingmaker – demonstrating once again that very few families held the reins of power during the medieval period and that they were all interconnected.
Eleanor meanwhile married into one of the great northern families – the Percy family – which must have caused her heartbreak in later years given that the Percy-Neville feud would be one of the triggers for the Wars of the Roses. Henry Percy, the 2nd Earl of Northumberland was the son of “Hostpur.” In a strange twist his family hadn’t done terribly well under the Lancastrian kings despite supporting Henry Bolingbroke against his cousin Richard II. The Percys had been rewarded in the first instance but had become disillusioned by Henry IV. Both Henry Percy’s father and grandfather had been killed as a result of rebelling against Henry IV. It was only when Henry V ascended the throne that our particular Henry Percy was able to return from exile in Scotland in 1413. It was at the same time that Eleanor’s parents arranged the marriage between Henry and Eleanor. It says something that Joan Beaufort who was the king’s aunt when all was said and done was able to work at a reconciliation between the king and the house of Percy whilst at the same time strengthening the Neville affinity in the north.
Percy, having returned to the fold, did what fifteenth century nobility did – he fought the Scots and the French. He was also a member of the privy council during Henry VI’s minority. But by the 1440s Percy was in dispute with various northerners over land. He had a disagreement of the violent kind with the Archbishop of York and then fell out with the Nevilles which was unfortunate because not only was he married to Eleanor but he’d married his sister to the 2nd earl of Westmorland (let’s just set aside the Neville-Neville feud for the moment). The problem between the Percys and the Nevilles arose from a disagreement over land. Eleanor’s brother, the Earl of Salisbury married his son Thomas to Maud Stanhope who was the niece of Lord Cromwell. Wressle Castle passed into the hands of the Nevilles as a result of the marriage. The Percy family was not pleased as the castle was traditionally one of their properties. Eleanor’s husband did not become involved in a physical fight with his in-laws but his younger son Thomas, Lord Egremont did. He attacked Thomas Neville and Maud Stanhope’s wedding party at Heworth Moor in August 1453. The two families were forced to make the peace with one another but the hostility continued to mount. The Nevilles were associated with Richard of York so naturally the Percy faction adhered to York’s opponents who happened to be best represented by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset of represented Henry VI. The feuding which was really about dominance in the north was a bit like a set of dominoes knocking against one another until the whole affair moved from local to national significance. Each side became more and more determined to support their “national” representative in the hope that either York or Somerset would gain the upper hand and the patronage system would see rewards in the form of confirmation of landownership.
Henry Percy was with the king on 22 May 1455 at St Albans and was killed. At the time it was regarded as the Earl of Salisbury’s way of dealing with the problem- meaning that he targeted and killed his own brother-in-law. This in its turn escalated the hostility between the two factions. The death of Eleanor’s husband made the Percy family Lancastrians to the back-bone and would ensure that the feud continued across the battle fields of the Wars of the Roses.
Eleanor and Henry had ten children. Their eldest son called John died young. The next boy – inevitably called Henry- became the 3rd Earl of Northumberland upon his father’s death in 1455 and he in his turn was killed in 1461 at the Battle of Towton along with his brother Richard. Eleanor’s son Henry had his own feud with the Nevilles on account of his marriage into the Poynings family. This Henry was present at the council meeting in 1458 that demanded recompense for the events of St Albans in 1455. He took part in the so-called Love-day orchestrated by Henry VI to demonstrate an end of the feuding but in reality Henry worked politically to have his Neville relations attainted of treason by the Coventry Parliament and he was on hand to take his revenge at Wakefield in 1460 when Richard of York and the Earl of Salisbury were killed.
Thomas Percy, Baron Egremont, the Percy responsible for the attack at Heworth Moor, was killed in 1460 at the Battle of Northampton. Ralph Percy was killed in 1464 at the Battle of Hedgeley Moor near Hexham leaving George who died in 1474 and William Percy who was the Bishop of Carlisle ( he died in 1462). Rather unfortunately for the troubled family, Eleanor’s daughter Katherine was married to Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent – the name may be familiar. He was the man who laid down his weapons in the middle of the Battle of Northampton costing Henry VI the battle. Another daughter Anne, lost her first husband in 1469 after he joined with the Earl of Warwick in conspiring to put Henry VI back on the throne and finally as you might expect there was a daughter called Joan who married into the northern gentry.
Eleanor’s son Henry was posthumously attainted of treason after Towton by Edward IV. Her grandson, another Henry, was packed off to prison and would only be released when Edward IV shook off the influence of the Kingmaker in 1470. The Percy family lost the earldom of Northumberland in the short term to the Neville family as a result of their loyalty to Henry VI in 1464 when Edward IV handed it over to the Nevilles in the form of John Neville Lord Montagu but unfortunately for Montagu Northumberland’s tenantry did not take kindly to the change in landlord and Edward IV found himself reappointing the Percys to the earldom – which contributed massively to the Kingmaker throwing his toys from his pram and turning coat.
The new Earl of Northumberland – the fourth Henry Percy to hold the title had learned a lot from his father and grandfather. Instead of rushing out wielding weapons Eleanor’s grandson was much more considered in his approach. He did not oppose Edward IV and he did not support Richard III despite the fact that Richard returned lands which Edward IV had confiscated. This particular Earl of Northumberland was on the battlefield at Bosworth but took no part in the conflict. Once again the locals had the final word though – the fourth earl was killed in 1489 in Yorkshire by rioters complaining about the taxes…and possibly the earl’s failure to support the last white rose king.
Eleanor died in 1472 having outlived her husband and most of her children.
Michael Hicks makes the point that securing an inheritance and a title was extremely important to the medieval mindset. Once these had been gained the aim was to hold onto them. The Neville clan headed by Joan Beaufort appear to have been increasingly single-minded about the retention of title and property and this was the key deciding factor in the variety of feuds they became involved with. (Hicks:325).
Just Cecily to go…
Hicks, Michael, (1991)Richard III and His Rivals: Magnates and Their Motives in the Wars of the Roses. London: Bloomsbury
Wagner, John A. (2001). The Encyclopaedia of the Wars of the Roses. Oxford: ABC