Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

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Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Lord of the Isles 1449-1459, 1461-1471

Inheritance

Neville is far better known as Warick the Kingmaker for his involvement in the rise and fall of English kings during the War of the Roses. He came to be Lord of the Channel Islands through sheer fluke, having assumed the title while married to Anne de Beauchamp, surviving sister of of Henry de Beauchamp, who was destined to become Lord of the Isles, but died before the previous incumbent, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.

When Henry died his titles passed to his two-year-old daughter Anne, and she assumed the Lordship, or Ladyship of the Isles, only to die two years later. After arguments about succession, Henry's titles passed to his aunt, Anne, and thence to her husband Richard.

It is doubtful that he ever had much time to contemplate his responsibilities in the islands while he was manoeuvring to replace one English monarch with another during one of the most turbulent periods in the country's history.

Channel Islands

Ten days after the death of Anne de Beauchamp, heiress of Warwick, her uncle Richard Neville was made Count of Warwick (23 July 1449) and on 14 June 1450 he received the various titles which had previously been attached to this position, presumably including the Lordship of the Channel Islands.

Guernsey records of 7 May 1459 refer to Monsieru de Warwick, Seigneur des Iles. The following year Warwick's titles were confiscanted by Henry VI:"Jam infra paucum tempus placuit nobis dictam Insulum nostram de Gersey cum omnibus aliis Insulis ad tunc Racardo nuper comiti Warrewicci pertinentem in manum nostram resumers" but he appears to have got them back in 1461 and remained in overall control of the Channel Islands for another ten years.

Family

The 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 main protagonists in the Wars of the Roses, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings.

Through fortunes of marriage and inheritance, he emerged in the 1450s at the centre of English politics. Originally a supporter of Henry VI, a territorial dispute with the Duke of Somerset led him to collaborate with Richard, Duke of York, opposing the king. From this conflict he gained the strategically valuable post of Captain of Calais, a position that benefited him greatly in the years to come.

The political conflict later turned into full-scale rebellion, and both York and Warwick's father, Salisbury, fell in battle. York's son, however, later triumphed with Warwick's assistance, and was crowned Edward IV. Edward initially ruled with Warwick's support, but the two later fell out over foreign policy and the king's choice of partner in marriage. After a failed plot to crown Edward's brother, George Duke of Clarence, Warwick instead restored Henry VI to the throne. The triumph was short-lived however: on 14 April 1471 Warwick was defeated by Edward at the Battle of Barnet, and killed.

Warwick had no sons. The eldest of his two daughters, Isabella Plantagenet, married George, Duke of Clarence. His youngest daughter Anne – after a short-lived marriage to King Henry's son Edward – married King Edward's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became Richard III.

Warwick's historical legacy has been a matter of much dispute. Historical opinion has alternated between seeing him as self-centred and rash, and regarding him as a victim of the whims of an ungrateful king. It is generally agreed, however, that in his own time he enjoyed great popularity in all layers of society, and that he was skilled at appealing to popular sentiments for political support.

Becoming Warwick

The Nevilles were an ancient family who came to prominence in the 14th century wars against the Scots. In 1397 Ralph Nevil had been created [[Earl of Westmorland. Ralph's son Richard Neville, the later Earl of Warwick's father, was a younger son by a second marriage, and therefore not heir to the earldom.

Richard was born on 22 November 1428. Little is known of his childhood. At the age of six he was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp, daughter of Richard de Beauchamp and his wife Isabel Despenser. This made him heir not only to the earldom of Salisbury, but also to a substantial part of the Montague, Beauchamp, and Despenser inheritance.

Circumstances were, however, to increase his fortune even further. Beauchamp's son Henry, who was married to Richard's sister Cecille, died in 1446. When Henry's daughter Anne died in 1449, Richard also found himself jure uxoris Earl of Warwick.

Richard's succession to the estates did not go undisputed, however. A protracted battle over parts of the inheritance ensued, particularly with Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, who was married to a daughter from Richard Beauchamp's first marriage. The dispute was about land, not about the Warwick title, as Henry's half-sisters were excluded from the succession.

By 1445 Richard had been knighted, probably at Queen Margaret's coronation on 22 April that year. He appears to have entered into the service of Henry VI by 1449, when mention is made of his services in a grant. He performed military service in the north with his father, and might have taken part in the war against Scotland in 1448–9. When Richard Duke of York unsuccessfully rose up against the king in 1452, both Warwick and his father rallied to the side of the king.

See Wikipedia article for more details of Warwick's role as "Kingmaker"

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