When Edmund Mortimer, the 5th Earl of March died without an heir in 1425, the male line of the Mortimer’s came to an end.
The heir to his estates, including Ludlow Castle was the son of his sister Anne and Richard of Conisborough, the Earl of Cambridge, a 14 year old boy also called Richard.
Richard, the Third Duke of York
Richard of York was born in 1411 and was descended from royalty on both sides:
His mother Anne from Lionel of Antwerp, the 1st Duke of Clarence and his father Richard from Edmund, the 1st Duke of York.
Both Lionel and Edmund were sons of the great King Edward III, and this gave Richard a strong claim to the throne.
Not much is known about his early life but his mother possibly died while giving birth to him, and his father was beheaded in 1415 as a result of a plot against King Henry V, leaving Richard an orphan by at the age of 4.
He was a valuable child to have as a ward, given his wealth and in 1417 his wardship was granted to Ralph Neville, the 1st Earl of Westmorland.
By 1424, Ralph Neville betrothed Richard to his 9 year old daugher Cecily, and they were married when Richard was around 18 in ca. 1429.
Marriage and early Career
One year after his marriage to Cecily, he was made Constable of England and he was present at both coronations of Henry VI, in 1429 in Westminster Abbey, and again in 1431 as he was declared King of France at Notre Dame in Paris.
In 1432 he came into his full majority and had control over all his estates.
In 1436, after a period of guarding the coast of Normandy was made the Regent of France in the name of King Henry VI, and in 1449 was made the Lieutenant of Ireland.
It seems that Richard and Cecily had a strong marriage, with Cecily accompanying him on his campaigns.
By 1455, Cecily had given birth to 13 children, with Anne, (1438) Edward (1442), Edmund
(1443), Elizabeth (1444), Margaret (1446), George (1449) and Richard (1452) living into adulthood.
Richard’s oldest sons Edward and Edmund were based at Ludlow Castle, whilst Margaret, George and Richard remained at the family home of Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire.
Wars of the Roses
I am going to touch briefly on Richard’s key role in the Wars of the Roses, please forgive me for glossing over it as I feel it needs a blog post all of it’s own, which is on my list.
The last years of Henry VI’s reign resulted in failed French campaigns and loss of territory. 1453 saw the fall of Bordeaux, and Henry lapsed into a catatonic state.
Richard as a cousin to the King, used this opportunity to gain the trust of the council and was named Protector of the Realm.
This was just the start of his disaffection with the crown and the nobles who Henry’s
Queen, the formidable Margaret of Anjou had surrounded them with.
They raised armies against each other including at the Battle of St. Albans in 1455 when Henry VI was captured by the forces of York.
The Battle of Ludford Bridge
By 1459, Richard found himself at Ludlow Castle, waiting to meet the army of the King’s. He was supported by his brother in law Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and his nephew Richard, Earl of Warwick
He had brought his young family to Ludlow, including his youngest son and namesake Richard (later Richard III) who was 7 years old.
The forces of York were outnumbered, and reluctant to fight an army that included King Henry himself, who had taken the field in full armour. During the night Andrew Trollope and his 600 men defected to Lancaster.
Richard, his sons Edward and Edmund, Salisbury and Warwick knew they faced certain defeat.
They escaped into exile, leaving the town of Ludlow to be ransacked by the Lancastrian troops.
His young family including his son Richard and wife Cecily were placed in the custody of Cecily’s sister Anne, the Duchess of Buckingham.
The Death of the Duke
As fate would have it, I am writing this blog on the 4th of January, 2018. which is nearly 558 years to the day that Richard was eventually killed by the the forces of Margaret of Anjou on the 30th of December, 1460.
Known as the Battle of Wakefield, Richard has been safe in his property of Sandal Castle waiting for his son Edward (the future Edward IV) and nephew (Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick) to bring further troops to reinforce his position against Margaret of Anjou.
A hunting party had been sent from the safety of Sandal Castle, and were slaughtered, drawing out Richard and the Earl of Salisbury,
His second eldest son Edmund was killed likely by Earl Clifford, trying to escape. He was 17.
Richard and the Earl of Salisbury were beheaded, and their heads, along with Edmund’s were placed atop Micklegate Bar in York, so ‘York, can look over York’. He was crowned in mockery with a paper crown
Ludlow Castle was not done yet.
After the death of Richard of York, the castle passed into the hands of his son Edward, who had won the brutal Battle of Towton against the forces of Lancaster in 1461. He was crowned King Edward IV one month later at Westminster Abbey.
His son Edward was sent to live at Ludlow castle in 1473 to govern the Welsh Marches as part of his title of Prince of Wales.
In fact, the late 15th and early 16th century brought more intrigue and historical events to a castle that was never quiet.