The Wars of The Roses Part 3: Edward IV – Betrayal of Warwick the Kingmaker

This post carries on from The Wars of The Roses Part 2: The Early Years of Edward IV – Conquest and Marriage

Tensions between The Earl of Warwick and Edward IV

King Edward IV, portrait dated to 1540. Owned by the National Portrait Gallery
King Edward IV, portrait dated to 1540. Owned by the National Portrait Gallery

By the second half of the 1460’s, Edward and his main supporter Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick (later known as Warwick the Kingmaker) had started to drift apart.

The Earl of Warwick was born in 1428 and had led a distinguished military career, initially supporting King Henry VI, then Edward’s father Richard, Duke of York.

He had supported Edward to gain his throne, had extensive political connections, and was well liked by the people of England. He was also related to Edward, a cousin on his mother’s side.

Edward had secretly married a Lancastrian widow named Elizabeth Woodville, undermining Warwick who had been negotiating a political marriage for him.

Edward was starting to show that he was to be the master of his own destiny, and not a puppet King controlled by Warwick.

Elizabeth Woodville came from a prolific family, and had 14 brothers and sisters.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Warwick the Kingmaker
Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Warwick the Kingmaker

She used her position as Queen to raise them to great favour at court and appointed them to key positions.

This included her brother Anthony Rivers who became a Knight of the Garter and ended up as guardian to her young son Edward, whilst he was based at Ludlow Castle as the Prince of Wales.

Initially Elizabeth was on good terms with the Earl of Warwick, with him being godfather to one of her children. But as her family grew in prominence at court and Edward started to take their council, things with Warwick started to sour.

The Woodvilles were cousins to the royal family in Burgundy and the fact that they

Image of Elizabeth Woodville, as owned by the National Portrait Gallery
Image of Elizabeth Woodville, as owned by the National Portrait Gallery

were starting to be favoured by Edward was unacceptable to Warwick, seeing he had spent time courting and building alliances with France, a key enemy of Burgundy.

Rebellion

1468 saw the end of Warwick’s patience with Edward and he started to rebel against him.

The King’s disloyal, ambitious brother George, Duke of Clarence joined with him and Warwick proposed a marriage for his eldest daughter Isabel to the Duke of Clarence to strengthen ties and provide an alternative King and royal family. This was not agreed to by Edward, but George went ahead with the marriage.

In 1469, Warwick incited a rebellion who met Edward’s forces at the battle of Edgecote Moor in Northhamptonshire. It resulted in a victory for Warwick.

Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire where Edward IV was held by Warwick in 1469
Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire where Edward IV was held by Warwick in 1469

Edward was briefly held by Warwick at his main residence of Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire but he was unable to gain any support to overthrow him, and had to release him.

One key attribute of Edward’s was that he was keen to maintain peace and often tried to reconcile with enemies.

Even after the Battle of Edgecote Moor, he tried to resolve the conflict with Warwick and Clarence but it was to be of no avail.

Warwick pressed on with his ambition and supported a rebellion against Edward at the Battle of Losecote Field in Lincolnshire.

18th century portrait of George, Duke of Clarence
18th century portrait of George, Duke of Clarence

This resulted in resounding victory for Edward, and Warwick and Clarence were forced into exile.

Warwick and Clarence, travelling with Warwick’s wife Anne Beauchamp, daughter Anne (later to be the wife of Richard III) and a heavily pregnant Isabel tried to enter Calais.

Calais stayed loyal to Edward and refused them entry. Sadly Isabel lost her child at sea, and they ended up in exile in France.

Alliance with Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou was the wife of Henry IV and had landed in England to marry him at the young age of 15 in 1445, and bore him a son, Edward of Westminster in 1453.

18th Century depiction of Margaret of Anjou. Owned by the National Portrait Gallery.
18th Century depiction of Margaret of Anjou. Owned by the National Portrait Gallery.

She grew to be a strong, determined Queen who worked to support the Lancastrian cause when Henry was incapacitated due to mental illness.

Margaret had fled Scotland for France to gain support from King Louis XI to gain back the throne for her husband, and to secure her son’s inheritance as Prince of Wales.

Through the influence of Louis, Warwick reconciled and allied with Margaret to place Henry VI back on the throne, and sealed the alliance with the marriage of his youngest daughter Anne to Margaret’s son Edward.

It was agreed that Warwick would return to England, defeat Edward, and Margaret would follow.

In 1470, Warwick saw an initial victory, taking Edward by surprise and forcing him and his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) to flee to Burgundy.

This looked promising for Warwick, as he had returned Henry VI to the throne, and he was back to where he thought he should be, running the kingdom through a puppet King.

15th century depiction of the Battle of Barnet from Wikipedia
15th century depiction of the Battle of Barnet from Wikipedia

Defeat of Warwick

Edward, reinforced by Burgundy returned to England with a strong force in 1471 and met Warwick’s forces at the Battle of Barnet in Hertfordshire.

Edward was joined by his brother Richard, and also his brother George, who had switched his alliance back to Edward seeing he now had nothing to gain from a win by Warwick.

The Battle of Barnet was hampered by a thick mist and the armies confused each other due to their similar banners. John Neville, Warwick’s brother who was commanding one of the flanks of the Lancastrian army was killed.

Warwick, knowing that his brother had been killed must have felt the battle was turning away from a victory. The Lancastrian’s began to retreat, and Warwick was struck from his horse and killed.

Warwick’s body was bought to St. Paul’s cathedral where it was displayed for 3 days to ensure the people knew he was dead. He was then interred at Bisham Abbey, with his tomb lost during the reformation of the 16th century.

It is interesting to know that Edward didn’t enact the usual punishment for a traitor on Warwick which was hanging and quartering the body. I believe this is due to the ongoing affection Edward held for him, and the respect he owed him, even though he had gone against him.

Next post: Ending the Lancastrian threat and Later Reign

References
Wikipedia – Anthony Rivers
History of War – Edward IV
English monarchs – Edward IV
Wikipedia – Margaret of Anjou
Wikipedia – Battle of Barnet
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7 thoughts on “The Wars of The Roses Part 3: Edward IV – Betrayal of Warwick the Kingmaker

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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