Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

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Edward of Westminster
Prince of Wales
Edward of Westminster.jpg
An 18th-century engraving of Edward.
Born13 October 1453 (1453-10-13)
Palace of Westminster, London, England
Died4 May 1471 (aged 17)
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Burial
Spouse Anne Neville
House Lancaster
Father Henry VI of England
Mother Margaret of Anjou
Religion Roman Catholic

Edward of Westminster (13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471), also known as Edward of Lancaster, was the only son of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury, making him the only heir apparent to the English throne to die in battle.

Henry VI of England 15th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI shortly afterwards.

Margaret of Anjou 15th-century French noblewoman and queen of England

Margaret of Anjou was the Queen of England by marriage to King Henry VI from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. Born in the Duchy of Lorraine into the House of Valois-Anjou, Margaret was the second eldest daughter of René, King of Naples, and Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine.

Battle of Tewkesbury 1471 battle in the English Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV. The Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle or were dragged from sanctuary two days later and immediately executed. The Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, died or was murdered shortly after the battle. Tewkesbury restored political stability to England until the death of Edward IV in 1483.

Contents

Early life

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster, London, the only son of King Henry VI of England and his wife, Margaret of Anjou. At the time, there was strife between Henry's supporters and those of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, who had a claim to the throne and challenged the authority of Henry's officers of state. Henry was suffering from mental illness, and there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and one of her loyal supporters. Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormonde, were both suspected of fathering Prince Edward; [1] however, there is no firm evidence to support the rumours, and Henry himself never doubted the boy's legitimacy and publicly acknowledged paternity. Edward was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in 1454.

Palace of Westminster Meeting place of the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.

Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset 15th-century English noble

Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, KG, was an English nobleman and an important figure in the Wars of the Roses and in the Hundred Years' War. He also succeeded in the title of 4th Earl of Somerset and was created 1st Earl of Dorset and 1st Marquess of Dorset, and Count of Mortain. He was known for his deadly rivalry with Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York.

Windsor Castle Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is notable for its long association with the English and later British royal family and for its architecture.

War over the English throne

In 1460, King Henry was captured by the supporters of the Duke of York at the Battle of Northampton and taken to London. The Duke of York was dissuaded from claiming the throne immediately but he induced Parliament to pass the Act of Accord, by which Henry was allowed to reign but Edward was disinherited, as York or his heirs would become king on Henry's death.

Battle of Northampton (1460) Major battle of the Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Northampton was fought on 10 July 1460 near the River Nene, Northamptonshire. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses. The opposing forces were an army led by nobles loyal to King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster, his Queen Margaret of Anjou and their seven-year-old son Edward, Prince of Wales on one side, and the army of Edward, Earl of March and Warwick the Kingmaker on the other. The battle was the first in which artillery was used in England.

Act of Accord

The Act of Accord was passed by the English Parliament on 25 October 1460, three weeks after Richard, Duke of York, had entered the Council Chamber and laid his hand on the empty throne. Under the Act, King Henry VI of England was to retain the crown for life but York and his heirs were to succeed, excluding Henry's son, Edward of Westminster. Henry was forced to agree to the Act.

Queen Margaret and Edward had meanwhile fled through Cheshire. By Margaret's later account, she induced outlaws and pillagers to aid her by pledging them to recognise the seven-year-old Edward as rightful heir to the crown. They subsequently reached safety in Wales and journeyed to Scotland, where Margaret raised support, while the Duke of York's enemies gathered in the north of England.

Cheshire County of England

Cheshire is a county in North West England, bordering Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south and Flintshire, Wales and Wrexham county borough to the west. Cheshire's county town is the City of Chester (118,200); the largest town is Warrington (209,700). Other major towns include Crewe (71,722), Ellesmere Port (55,715), Macclesfield (52,044), Northwich (75,000), Runcorn (61,789), Widnes (61,464) and Winsford (32,610)

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

After York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield, the large army which Margaret had gathered advanced south. They defeated the army of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of York's most prominent supporters, at the Second Battle of St Albans. Warwick brought the captive King Henry in the train of his army, and he was found abandoned on the battlefield. Two of Warwick's knights, William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville, and Sir Thomas Kyriell, who had agreed to remain with Henry and see that he came to no harm, were captured. The day after the battle, Margaret asked Edward what death the two knights should suffer. Edward readily replied that their heads should be cut off. [2]

Battle of Wakefield 1460 battle in the English Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Wakefield took place in Sandal Magna near Wakefield in northern England, on 30 December 1460. It was a major battle of the Wars of the Roses. The opposing forces were an army led by nobles loyal to the captive King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster and his Queen Margaret of Anjou on one side, and the army of Richard, Duke of York, the rival claimant to the throne, on the other.

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick 15th-century English noble

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, 6th Earl of Salisbury, 8th & 5th Baron Montagu, 7th Baron Monthermer,, known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander. The eldest son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, Warwick was the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country's borders. One of the leaders in the Wars of the Roses, originally on the Yorkist side but later switching to the Lancastrian side, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, which led to his epithet of "Kingmaker".

Second Battle of St Albans 1461 battle in the English Wars of the Roses

The Second Battle of St Albans was a battle of the English Wars of the Roses, fought on 17 February 1461, at St Albans in Hertfordshire. The army of the Yorkist faction under the Earl of Warwick attempted to bar the road to London north of the town. The rival Lancastrian army used a wide outflanking manoeuvre to take Warwick by surprise, cut him off from London, and drive his army from the field. The victors also released the feeble King Henry VI, who had been Warwick's prisoner, from his captivity. However, they ultimately failed to take advantage of their victory.

Exile in France

English Royalty
House of Lancaster
Arms of the Prince of Wales (Modern).svg
Henry VI

Margaret hesitated to advance on London with her unruly army, and subsequently retreated. They were routed at the Battle of Towton a few weeks later. Margaret and Edward fled once again, to Scotland. For the next three years, Margaret inspired several revolts in the northernmost counties of England, but was eventually forced to sail to France, where she and Edward maintained a court in exile. (Henry had once again been captured and was a prisoner in the Tower of London.)

Battle of Towton 1461 battle in the English Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Towton was fought on 29 March 1461 during the English Wars of the Roses, near the village of Towton in Yorkshire. A culminating battle in the dynastic struggles between the houses of Lancaster and York for control of the English throne, the engagement ended in an overwhelming victory for the Yorkists. It brought about a change of monarchs in England, with the victor, the Yorkist Edward IV having displaced the Lancastrian Henry VI as king, and thus driving the head of the Lancastrians and his key supporters out of the country.

France in the Middle Ages History of France during the Middle Ages

The Kingdom of France in the Middle Ages was marked by the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia (843–987); the expansion of royal control by the House of Capet (987–1328), including their struggles with the virtually independent principalities that had developed following the Viking invasions and through the piecemeal dismantling of the Carolingian Empire and the creation and extension of administrative/state control in the 13th century; and the rise of the House of Valois (1328–1589), including the protracted dynastic crisis of the Hundred Years' War with the Kingdom of England (1337–1453) compounded by the catastrophic Black Death epidemic (1348), which laid the seeds for a more centralized and expanded state in the early modern period and the creation of a sense of French identity.

Tower of London A historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.

In 1467 the ambassador of the Duchy of Milan to the court of France wrote that Edward "already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne." [3]

After several years in exile, Margaret took the best opportunity that presented itself and allied herself with the renegade Earl of Warwick. King Louis XI of France wanted to start a war with Burgundy, allies of the Yorkist King Edward IV. He believed if he allied himself to restoring Lancastrian rule they would help him conquer Burgundy. As a compliment to his new allies Louis made young Edward godfather to his son Charles. Prince Edward was married to Anne Neville, Warwick's younger daughter, in December 1470, though there is some doubt as to whether the marriage was ever consummated.

Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury

Warwick returned to England and deposed Edward IV, with the help of Edward IV's younger brother, the Duke of Clarence. Edward IV fled into exile to Burgundy with his youngest brother the Duke of Gloucester, while Warwick restored Henry VI to the throne.

Anne Neville, wife of Edward of Westminster and later of Richard III. Anne Neville portrait.jpg
Anne Neville, wife of Edward of Westminster and later of Richard III.

Edward and Margaret lingered behind in France until April 1471. However, Edward IV had already raised an army, returned to England, and reconciled with Clarence. On the same day Margaret and Edward landed in England (14 April), Edward IV defeated and killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. With little real hope of success, the inexperienced prince and his mother led the remnant of their forces to meet Edward IV in the Battle of Tewkesbury. They were defeated and Edward was killed. [4]

According to some accounts, shortly after the rout of the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury, a small contingent of men under the Duke of Clarence found the grieving prince near a grove, and immediately beheaded him on a makeshift block, despite his pleas. Paul Murray Kendall, a biographer of Richard III, accepts this version of events. [5]

Another account of Edward's death is given by three Tudor sources: The Grand Chronicle of London, Polydore Vergil, and Edward Hall. It was later dramatised by William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 3 , Act V, scene v. Their story is that Edward was captured and brought before the victorious Edward IV and his brothers and followers. The king received the prince graciously, and asked him why he had taken up arms against him. The prince replied defiantly, "I came to recover my father's heritage." The king then struck the prince across his face with his gauntlet hand, and his brothers killed the prince with their swords.

However, none of these accounts appear in any of the contemporaneous sources, which all report that Edward died in battle.

Edward's body is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey. His widow, Anne Neville, married the Duke of Gloucester, who eventually succeeded as King Richard III in 1483.

Epitaph

The Latin memorial brass to Edward in Tewkesbury Abbey is set in the floor between the choir stalls, under the tower. It reads as follows:

+
Hic jacet
Edwardus
princeps Wallie, crude=
liter interfectus dum adhuc juvenis
anno dñi 1471 mense maie die quarto
eheu hominum furore Matris
tu sola lux es ⁊ gregis
ultima
spes

This can be translated into English as follows: [6]

"Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth. Anno Domini 1471, May fourth. Alas, the savagery of men. Thou art the sole light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race."

Ancestry

Notes

  1. Paul Murray Kendall, Richard The Third; page 32
  2. Churchill, Winston (1956). A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: Vol1 The Birth of Britain. Cassell. p. 328. ISBN   0-304-29500-0.
  3. R. A. Griffiths, 'Edward, prince of Wales (1453–1471)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870–72), entry for Tewkesbury
  5. Paul Murray Kendall. Richard the Third (1956); pp. 118, 528–529 note
  6. "www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk" Monumental inscriptions on gravestones and monuments in the Abbey

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References

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 13 October 1453 Died: 4 May 1471
Vacant
Title last held by
Henry of Monmouth
Prince of Wales
Disputed with Richard Duke of York (Yorkist), 31 October-30 December 1460

1454–1471
Vacant
Title next held by
Edward (V)
Vacant
Title last held by
Henry of Windsor
Duke of Cornwall
Disputed with Richard Duke of York (Yorkist), 31 October-30 December 1460

1454–1471