Richard Duke of York (3rd)1411 1460
Richard Duke of York, was a Plantagenet, the 3rd Duke in his line and inherited the Dukedom following his uncle Edward’s death at Agincourt at the tender age of just four. There would be little expectation that he would go on to be the founder of the House of York although he himself would never be King. Three of his descendants would reign as King,being Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III but only two would be crowned. Through the troubled and divisive times of the War of the Roses and in the run-up to the establishment of the Tudor Dynasty the impact of this man’s actions would be profound, the father of two Kings, so who was this son of York?
Richard’s father (Richard 3rd Earl of CAMBRIDGE) was implicated in the Southampton Plot and consequently paid with his life, his mother was Anne MORTIMER daughter of Roger, the 4th Earl of MARCH and was also the great granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp (the 2nd surviving son of Edward III.) Whilst Ann had an arguable claim to the throne it was not one that was definitely superior to the claims of the House of Lancaster via John of Gaunt and was not based on a continuous male line. Richard’s father had a claim because he was the grandson of Edward LANGLEY the 1st Duke of YORK and his wife Isabella of CASTILLE.
Plantagenet line from both his parents Richard of York had a strong claim to the English Throne
Richard grew-up knowing he had a claim from both his parent’s lineages and this essentially fashioned his future and the issues that caused the War of the Roses with the conflict between the Lancastrians via John of Gaunt and his own parents.
- 1436-1437 In his early public life he served under Henry VI (Lancastrian King)
- 1440-1445 Governor of France under Henry VI
If Henry VI had died childless Richard’s claim to the throne would have been virtually unassailable but that did not happen, instead England’s ineffectual and inert King hung-on and indirectly at the very least caused the crisis which led to the War of the Roses.
- 1447 Richard is in effect demoted from France to Ireland, he delays taking up his new post, in effect seeing it as an exile as much as an appointment by the King.
- The Exchequer subsequently delayed paying Richard his wages, causing financial difficulties and the forced sale of some of his manors.
- Normandy is has been lost, causing him further loss of valuable manners and national humiliation.
- 1450 he returns to England, blames Edmund BEAUFORT (Duke of SOMERSET) debacle and aims to replace him within the King’s counsel. But he is rebuked. 1450 He took up arms, and demanded that Somerset should be brought to trial for his misdeeds.
- York was persuaded to lay down his arms, and was imprisoned.Shortly afterwards he was released and retired to his castle of Wigmore (in Herefordshire).
But Henry VI was reeling from the impact and threat of the CADE’s REBELLION a 1450 prelude to the circumstances that led o the War of the Roses and was led by Jack CADE. It was rebellion against the inept and ineffectual government that had lost the 100 Years War.
The cause of the common man led by the people of Kent under CADE is in effect subsequently taken-up by Richard.
- 1452 whilst Henry has resisted having Richard’s protection foisted upon him including a parliamentary action seeking to appoint Richard as heir apparent/presumptive, Richard responds by taking up arms but then has to back down.
- Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III), youngest son of the duke of York, born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire on 2 October.
- 1453/4 with Henry having had a breakdown and retiring from public life Richard is finally appointed as the King’s Protector. Henry’s heir was still in his minority. But Henry recovers supported by his wife and Richard is again deprived of his authority.
- Richard resorts again to force aided by the alliance with the NEVILLES via his marriage to Cecily Neville, the daughter of Richard NEVILLE (the Earl of WARWICK)
- 1453 The duke of York came forward again and was admitted into the king’s council. He obtained the imprisonment of Somerset in December.
- 1454 Parliament met on 14 February,The king’s incapacity was agreed and the duke of York was appointed on 3 April ‘protector .’
- King Henry’s heir Prince Edward, born on 15 March.
- Somerset was deprived of his offices and accused of treason, but the charge was not pursued.
- 1455 Captaincy of Calais bestowed on Warwick nephew of Richard of YORK
- 1455 1st Battle of St Albans: the armies met at the first battle of St Albans on 22 May, Somerset was killed and the duke of York gained a complete victory.
- 1458 Richard effects to reconcile with the Queen, Henry VI’s arguably greatest asset. They were formally reconciled on 25 March.
- 1459 BLORE HEATH: Audley killed, Richard Neville is Earl of Salisbury joins up with YORK and WARWICK at LUDLOW with hope of defeating Margaret of ANJOU together.
- 1459 LUDLOW Ludford Bridge: Henry VI having advanced with a superior army, was joined by Sir Andrew Trollope, a large body of troops deserted the Richard at Ludlow having been offered a pardon by the Queen. Richard with his sons, the Earl of March, afterwards Edward IV, and the Earl of Rutland, and his friends the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, fled; York and Rutland to Ireland, March, Salisbury, and Warwick, to Calais. The King then entered and plundered Ludlow.
- 1459 A parliament was held at Coventry on 20 November in which the duke of York and his chief supporters were attainted. Richard’s family, his wife Cecily, his two youngest sons George and Richard and his daughter Margaret were all taken prisoner.
- 1460 Northampton Henry VI is defeated and taken prisoner by Yorkists. Richard now claims his right to the throne. They entered London with a large army on 2 July. The queen raised a force, which was totally defeated by the Yorkists at Northampton on 10 July. The duke of Buckingham, the queen’s general, was killed and the king taken prisoner. The queen and her son fled to Scotland.
- 1460 Richard of York requested parliament to recognise his claim to the throne in place of Henry VI. The claims of the House of Lancaster were, questionable, but they had occupied the crown for 60 years and there were obvious difficulties in declaring them to be usurpers. A compromise was reached by Henry VI naming Richard as his heir, passing over the claims of his young son, Edward of Lancaster, whose paternity was in doubt.
- 1460 Margaret de Anjou marched south towards London, so Richard York marched from London northwards with an army numbering around 8,000 to 9,000 men, accompanied by his second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland and his brother-in-law Richard Neville Earl of Salisbury. The Queen raised an army in the north and advanced against the Yorkists. On 2 December the Richard left London to oppose the Queen.Richard settled himself and his army at at his castle of Sandal near Wakefield in Yorkshire. His intention to gather supplies and munitions in defence against the Lancastrians. The Lancastrians were camped at Pontefract. Richard knew the opposition were a short ride away and decided to send for reinforcements from his son Edward in Gloucestershire. As the Lancastrians advanced, instead of staying put in the castle, Richard made the fatal error of leaving and was engaged in battle. He was killed in this battle and whilst the plight of the Yorkists was far from over Richard’s part as an active player had ended.
Edward heard of his fathers death and prepared to move form Gloucestershire to return to London, when he heard of Jasper Tudor’s Lancastrian army. Edward, wanted to prevent Jasper Tudor and his father, Owen, from leaving Wales and joining up with the main Lancastrian army. Duke Richard’s eldest son Edward, now duke of York (and afterwards Edward IV) defeated Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, at the battle of Mortimers Cross, near Wigmore, on 2 February. The earl’s father, Owen Tudor, and several other prisoners were beheaded on the field of battle. The War of the Roses had taken on a new dimension as the Tudors had now engaged and would seek revenge in the turbulent times that were to follow.
Whilst Richard of York is a main protagonist in the circumstances that created the firmament of the War of the Roses, whilst he had a just and arguable claim to the throne from both his parents, he would not live to be King but future Kings Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III all his descendants would be true Yorkists.
For more on the Yorkist period in our history, the intriguing events of the War of the Roses and the machinations of the House of Lancaster York and the Tudors, click here to our Periods of History
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