Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

Last updated

Edward of Westminster
Prince of Wales
EdwardPrinceOfWalesBeauchampPagaent.jpg
Drawing of Edward from the Beauchamp Pageant, c. 1483–1494
Born13 October 1453 (1453-10-13)
Palace of Westminster, London, England
Died4 May 1471(1471-05-04) (aged 17)
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Burial
Spouse
(m. 1470)
House Lancaster
Father Henry VI of England
Mother Margaret of Anjou

Edward of Westminster (13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471), also known as Edward of Lancaster, was the only son of Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou. He was killed aged seventeen at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

Contents

Early life

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster, London, the only son of Henry VI of England and his wife, Margaret of Anjou. At the time, there was strife between Henry's supporters and those of Richard of York, 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 Ormond, 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.

War over the English throne

In 1460, 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.

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.

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 had brought the captive 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]

Exile in France

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

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.)

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. Louis XI of France wanted to start a war with Burgundy, allies of the Yorkist 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. Prince 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 of Westminster was killed. [4]

According to contemporary sources, Edward was overtaken and slain in the battle during the rout of the Lancastrians, with some accounts attributing the deed to the Duke of Clarence, to whom the prince appealed to for help. Paul Murray Kendall, a biographer of Richard III, accepts this version of events. [5] Another version states that Clarence and his men found the grieving prince near a grove following the battle, and immediately beheaded him on a makeshift block, despite his pleas.

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 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 and family tree

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

Related Research Articles

Year 1471 (MCDLXXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward IV of England</span> King from 1461 to 1470 and 1471 to 1483

Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, then again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a central figure in the Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars in England fought between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions between 1455 and 1487.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry VI of England</span> King of England (r. 1422–61, 1470–71); disputed King of France (r. 1422–53)

Henry VI was King of England and Lord of Ireland 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Margaret of Anjou</span> 15th-century Queen of England

Margaret of Anjou was Queen of England and nominally Queen of France 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabeth Woodville</span> 15th-century Queen consort of England

Elizabeth Woodville, later known as Dame Elizabeth Grey, was Queen of England from her marriage to King Edward IV on 1 May 1464 until Edward was deposed on 3 October 1470, and again from Edward's resumption of the throne on 11 April 1471 until his death on 9 April 1483.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence</span> 15th-century English noble

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, was the 6th son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of English kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle between rival factions of the Plantagenets now known as the Wars of the Roses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick</span> 15th-century English noble

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander. The eldest son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, he became Earl of Warwick through marriage, and 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".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anne Neville</span> English queen

Anne Neville was Queen of England as the wife of King Richard III. She was the younger of the two daughters and co-heiresses of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. Before her marriage to Richard, she had been Princess of Wales as the wife of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the only son and heir apparent of King Henry VI.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Tewkesbury</span> 1471 Yorkist victory in the 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 in England. King Edward IV and his forces loyal to the House of York completely defeated those of the rival House of Lancaster. The Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle or executed. The Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, died shortly after the battle, perhaps murdered. Tewkesbury restored political stability to England until the death of Edward IV in 1483.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Barnet</span> 1471 engagement in the Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic conflict of 15th-century England. The military action, along with the subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne for Edward IV. On Sunday 14 April 1471, Easter Day, near Barnet, then a small Hertfordshire town north of London, Edward led the House of York in a fight against the House of Lancaster, which backed Henry VI for the throne. Leading the Lancastrian army was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who played a crucial role in the fate of each king. Historians regard the battle as one of the most important clashes in the Wars of the Roses, since it brought about a decisive turn in the fortunes of the two houses. Edward's victory was followed by 14 years of Yorkist rule over England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Margaret of York</span> Duchess consort of Burgundy

Margaret of York —also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy—was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the Burgundian State after his death. She was a daughter of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of two kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. She was born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, in the Kingdom of England, and she died at Mechelen in the Low Countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of York</span> Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet

The House of York was a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet. Three of its members became kings of England in the late 15th century. The House of York descended in the male line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III. In time, it also represented Edward III's senior line, when an heir of York married the heiress-descendant of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III's second surviving son. It is based on these descents that they claimed the English crown. Compared with its rival, the House of Lancaster, it had a superior claim to the throne of England according to cognatic primogeniture, but an inferior claim according to agnatic primogeniture. The reign of this dynasty ended with the death of Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. It became extinct in the male line with the death of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, in 1499.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cecily Neville, Duchess of York</span> 15th-century English duchess

Cecily Neville was an English noblewoman, the wife of Richard, Duke of York (1411–1460), and the mother of two kings of England—Edward IV and Richard III. Cecily Neville was known as "the Rose of Raby", because she was born at Raby Castle in Durham, and "Proud Cis", because of her pride and a temper that went with it, although she was also known for her piety. She herself signed her name "Cecylle".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmund Beaufort (died 1471)</span> 15th-century English noble

Edmund Beaufort, styled 4th Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, 3rd Earl of Dorset, was an English nobleman, and a military commander during the Wars of the Roses, in which he supported the Lancastrian king Henry VI.

Thomas Fauconberg or Thomas Neville, sometimes called Thomas the Bastard, or the Bastard of Fauconberg, was the natural son of William Neville, Lord Fauconberg, who was a leading commander in the Hundred Years' War and, until joining his cousin, Richard Neville in rebellion on the Lancastrian side against another cousin, Edward IV, served on the Yorkist side in the Wars of the Roses.

Events from the 1460s in England.

Events from the 1470s in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Readeption of Henry VI</span> 1470 restoration of Henry VI to the throne of England

The Readeption was the restoration of Henry VI of England to the throne of England in 1470. Edward, Duke of York, had taken the throne as Edward IV in 1461. Henry had fled with some Lancastrian supporters and spent much of the next few years in hiding in the north of England or in Scotland, where there was still some Lancastrian support. Henry was captured in 1465 and was held as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Following dissent with his former key supporter, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Edward was forced to flee in 1470. Henry was then restored to the throne, although he was deposed again the following year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wars of the Roses</span> Dynastic civil war in England from 1455 to 1487

The Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), known at the time and for more than a century after as the Civil Wars, were a series of civil wars fought over control of the English throne in the mid-to-late fifteenth century. These wars were fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: Lancaster and York. The wars extinguished the male lines of the two branches, leading to the Tudor family inheriting the Lancastrian claim to the throne. Following the war, the Houses of Lancaster and York were united, creating a new royal dynasty and thereby resolving their rival claims. For over thirty years, there were greater and lesser levels of violent conflict between various rival contenders for control of the English monarchy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siege of London (1471)</span> Battle during the War of the Roses

The siege of London was an episode of the Wars of the Roses between 12 and 15 May 1471, in which adherents of the House of Lancaster commanded by Thomas Neville unsuccessfully attempted to storm the city and free King Henry VI, who had been imprisoned in the Tower of London by his rival Edward IV of the House of York. This confrontation, which was an epilogue to the recent battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, completed the final restoration of Edward IV and ensured the Yorkist hold on the throne.

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