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Authors: Michael Hicks

Warwick the kingmaker

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Warwick

the

Kingmaker

MICHAEL HICKS

CONTENTS

COVERCOPYRIGHTABBREVIATIONSPREFACE1: THE LEGEND OF WARWICK THE KINGMAKER2: THE FORMATIVE YEARSTABLE 2.1 THE HOLLANDSTABLE 2.2 THE MONTAGUSTABLE 2.3 THE NEVILLE FAMILY IN THE 1430s AND 1440s3: EARL OF WARWICKTABLE 3.1 THE BEAUCHAMP AND DESPENSER INHERITANCESTABLE 3.2 TITLE TO THE LORDSHIP OF ABERGAVENNY4: THE POLARIZATION OF POLITICS 1449–545: PARTISAN POLITICS 1454–6TABLE 5.1: THE ROYAL FAMILY AND THE PROTECTORATE 14546: COUNTDOWN TO CIVIL WAR 1456–97: FORTUNE’S FIRST WHEEL 1459–61TABLE 7.1 THE HOUSE OF YORK’S TITLE TO THE CROWN 1460–18: THE RULE OF THE NEVILLES 1461–7TABLE 8.1 THE SALISBURY CELEBRATIONS AT BISHAM 1463TABLE 8.2 THE NEVILLES IN THE NORTH IN THE 1460s9: DROPPING THE PILOT 1467–910: FORTUNE’S SECOND WHEEL 1470–1TABLE 10.1 TITLE TO THE CROWN AND THE SUCCESSION 1470–111: TERMINUSPLATESSELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY(a) Manuscript Sources(b) Printed Primary Sources(c) Secondary SourcesCOPYRIGHTCopyright © Michael Hicks, 1998All rights reserved.The right of Michael Hicks to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published 1998

Blackwell Publishers Ltd108 Cowley Road,Oxford OX4 1JF,UKBlackwell Publishers Inc.350 Main Street,Malden, Massachusetts 02148,USA

British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataHicks, M. A. (Michael A.)Warwick the Kingmaker / Michael Hicks.p.cm.Includes bibliographical references (p. 314) and index.ISBN 0–631–16259–3 (acid-free paper)1. Warwick, Richard Neville, Earl of, 1428–1471.2. Great Britain—History—Wars of the Roses, 1455–1485.3. Great Britain—Politics andgovernment—1399–1485.4. Great Britain—Kings and rulers—succession.5. Nobility—Great Britain—Biography.I. Title.DA247.W25H531998942.04'4'092—dc21[B]98-92250CIP

Printed in Great Britain by TJ International, Padstow, Cornwall

ABBREVIATIONS

NOTE: Manuscripts in the Public Record Office (PRO) are cited by callmark only.

Annales

‘Annales Rerum Anglicarum’,The Wars of theEnglish in France, ed. J. Stevenson (Rolls Series, 4vols, 1864), ii(2).

Anstis

Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, ed. J.Anstis, 2 vols, 1724.

Benet’s Chron

‘John Benet’s Chronicle for the years 1400 to 1462’,ed. G. L. and M. A. Harriss (Camden Miscellanyxxiv, Camden 4th ser. ix, 1972).

BIHR

Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research.

BL

British Library.

Bodl

Bodleian Library.

Carpenter,Locality

M. C. Carpenter,Locality and Polity: A Study ofWarwickshire Landed Society 1401–99(Cambridge,1992).

CCR

Calendar of the Close Rolls.

CChR

Calendar of Charter Rolls 1427–1516.

CFR

Calendar of the Fine Rolls.

CPL

Calendar of the Papal Letters.

CPR

Calendar of the Patent Rolls.

CSPM

Calendar of State Papers Milanese.

Davies Chron.

An English Chronicle, ed. J. S. Davies (CamdenSoc. lxiv, 1856).

DKR

Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.

EETS

Early English Text Society.

EHD

English Historical Documents, iv,1327–1485, ed.A. R. Myers (1969).

EHR

English Historical Review.

Ellis,Original Letters

Original Letters Illustrative of English History, ed.H. Ellis, 3 ser. 1824–46.

Foedera

Foedera, Conventiones, et cujuscunque Acta Publica, ed. T. Rymer (The Hague, 10 vols, 1745; 20 vols,1704–35).

GEC

G. E. C[okayne],Complete Peerage, ed. H. V. Gibbs(13 vols, 1910–59).

Gregory’s Chron.

Historical Collections of a Citizen of London, ed.J. Gairdner (Camden Society, new series xvii,1876).

Griffiths,Henry VI

R. A. Griffiths,The Reign of King Henry VI1422–61(1981).

Griffiths,King & Country

R. A. Griffiths,King and Country: England andWales in the Fifteenth Century(London, 1991).

Hicks,Clarence

M. A. Hicks,False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence:George Duke of Clarence 1449–78(rev. edn Bangor,1992).

Hicks,Richard III

M. A. Hicks,Richard III and his Rivals: Magnatesand their Motives during the Wars of the Roses(1991).

HMC

Historical Manuscripts Commission.

HR

Historical Research.

JMH

Journal of Medieval History.

Johnson,York

P. A. Johnson,Duke Richard of York 1411–60(Oxford, 1988).

Kendall,Warwick

P. M. Kendall,Warwick the Kingmaker(London,1957).

‘NevillePedigree’

R. H. C. FitzHerbert, ‘Original Pedigree ofTaylboys and Neville’,The Genealogist, new ser. iii (1886), 31–5, 107–11.

NMS

Nottingham Medieval Studies.

PL

The Paston Letters AD 1422–1509, ed. J. Gairdner(6 vols, London, 1904).

Paston L & P

Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, ed. N. Davis (2 vols, Oxford, 1971–6).

Plumpton L & P

The Plumpton Letters and Papers, ed. J. Kirby(Camden 5th ser. iv, 1997).

POPC

Proceedings & Ordinances of the Privy Council.

RO

Record Office.

Rous Roll

The Rous Roll, ed. W. H. Courthope (London,1859).

RP

Rotuli Parliamentorum, Record Commission,6 vols, 1767–83.

Scofield

C. L. Scofield,The Life and Reign of Edward IV(2 vols, London, 1923).

SHF

Société de l’Histoire de France.

Stevenson

Letters and Papers illustrative of the Wars of theEnglish in France, ed. J. Stevenson, 3 vols in 2, Rolls Series, 1864.

Stone’s Chron.

The Chronicle of John Stone, ed. W. G. Searle(Cambridge Antiquarian Society, octavo seriesxxiv, 1902).

Storey,Lancaster

R. L. Storey,The End of the House of Lancaster(2nd edn, 1986).

TCWAS

Transactions of the Cumberland & WestmorlandArchaeological Society.

Three 15th-Cent. Chrons.

Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, ed. J. Gairdner (Camden Society, new series xxviii, 1880).

TRHS

Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

Vale’s Bk

The Politics of Fifteenth-Century England: JohnVale’s Book, ed. M. L. Kekewich, C. F. Richmond,A. Sutton, L. Visser-Fuchs, and J. Watts (Stroud,1995).

Warkworth’s Chron.

J. Warkworth,Chronicle of the First Thirteen Yearsof the Reign of King Edward the Fourth, ed. J. O.Halliwell (Camden Society vi, 1839).

Watts,Henry VI

J. L. Watts,Henry VI and the Politics of Kingship(Cambridge, 1996).

Waurin

Receuil des Anciennes Chroniques par Waurin, ed.W. and E. L. C. P. Hardy (5 vols Rolls Series,1864–91), vol. v.

Waurin-Dupont

Anciennes Chroniques de l’Engleterre, ed. E. L. M. E.Dupont, 3 vols, Société de l’Histoire de France,1858–63.

Whetehamstede

Registrum Abbatiae Johannis Whetehamstede,Abbatis Monasterii Sancti Albani, ed. H. T. Riley(2 vols, Rolls Series, 1872–3).

PREFACE

Warwick the Kingmaker played a central role in all England’s political crises between 1450 and 1471. He ranged across the islands of Britain and its nearest neighbours. He was a family-man, a great nobleman, statesman, rebel, general, admiral and subaltern, patron, benefactor and much else besides. If his own records are largely lost, he crops up in many other archives and chronicles in many different languages. No historian, certainly not this one, can consult everything or be expert in all these areas. I gratefully acknowledge both the work of my contemporaries and also of the centuries of researchers, editors, writers and archivists who have brought us to our present state of knowledge and understanding. All historians of the reigns of Henry VI and Edward IV must start and finish with the monumental studies of Professor Ralph Griffiths and Miss Cora L. Scofield. Though the late K. B. McFarlane now conditions all studies of late medieval English politics, it is Professor R. L. Storey’s pioneeringEnd of the House of Lancasterand Professor J. R. Lander’s classic articles that are most influential in interpreting the reigns respectively of Henry VI and Edward IV. Many earlier writers are cited in the Bibliography, amongst whom for their guidance on particular areas I thank especially the late Mr John Armstrong, Dr Gerald Harriss, Dr Paul Johnson, Professor Tony Pollard, Professor Colin Richmond, the late Professor Charles Ross, Mr T. B. Pugh, Dr Livia Visser-Fuchs, and the editors ofJohn Vale’s Book.Mr Adrian Ailes, Dr Anne Curry and Dr Michael K. Jones supplied useful references and advice, the latter many times. Dr John Cherry and Mr Geoffrey Wheeler helped with the illustrations. Whilst I hope that they are all happy with the use I have made of their help, the responsibility for what appears here is mine.

Inevitably this book departs from existing works at many points. Any fresh look from a different angle, particularly from the vantage of a particular individual – for everyone’s history is different – forces the historian or biographer to reassess and revise in search of the best fit of evidence to interpretation.Narratives, arguments and analyses that appear to work well do so no longer when approached from a different point of view. Even accounts of the same events by the same author with reference to different individuals vary by more than mere perspective. I have tried to return to the evidence and not merely to repeat my own earlier work or that of others. At several points where others have seemed certain, I have not been so sure and freely admit that I do not know the answer. What is written here constitutes my current synthesis. It is not the last word on the subject nor, probably, my own last word. Much still remains to be learnt and doubtless to be much better understood. It is staggering how far we have come in the last hundred, fifty, and twenty years.

Biography is the study of an individual. It requires the presentation of the past in relation to that person and ideally through the eyes of that person. A tax-ing and ultimately impossible task. That does not mean that the biographer must take his subject’s side, must ignore the views or decry the motives of others, or abandon objectivity. If I have sought to understand Warwick’s actions, I have also, I believe, pointed out how unjustifiable, unreasonable or perverse they often were. I have not called Warwick great. He was certainly remarkable and demands some admiration. We do not have to like him. Can modern historians like any of the kings, politicians and magnates of late medieval England? But we should note that many people who lived in the fifteenth century definitely did admire Warwick.

Many years of reading, researching, travel, discussion, reflection and writing have gone into this book. They would not have been possible without the support and tolerance of my long-suffering family, especially my wife Cynthia to whom I dedicate this book, to her late mother who read all my books, and to my History colleagues at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. The College kindly awarded me study leave in 1989 and has supported my attendance at conferences and in other ways. St John’s College, Oxford, awarded me a scholarship in the summer vacation of 1994 to study in Oxford. I have benefited from membership of research seminars of the Institute of Historical Research and of the Wessex Medieval Centre at Southampton and from attendance at a dozen fifteenth-century colloquia. I am indebted to a host of librarians and archivists in many repositories over nearly thirty years. The notes I made on George Duke of Clarence as a research student have proved impressively full and unexpectedly useful. I acknowledge the contributions of John Armstrong, T. B. Pugh, and Charles Ross in that context too.

At a more technical level, efforts have been made – I hope with complete success – to avoid confusion in the early chapters between two Richard Nevilles, two Richard Beauchamps, two Richards Earl of Warwick, two Anne Beauchamps Countesses of Warwick, and four George Nevilles! Quotations in foreign languages have been silently translated; middle English has been retained, the runic thorn being replaced by the modern ‘th’. In Middle English ‘v’ and ‘u’ are often interchangeable; so are ‘i’ and ‘j’. Unless otherwise indicated, all manuscripts are at the Public Record Office and all works cited were published in London. Prices in marks and ecus have been translated into modern British pounds and new pence without regard for inflation over 500 years.

September 1997Winchester

1: THE LEGEND OF WARWICK THE KINGMAKER

Warwick the Kingmaker dominated the first half of the Wars of the Roses (1455–71). Traditions of service and royal blood destined him to be the loyal subject of the last Lancastrian King Henry VI and the natural opponent of his critic Richard Duke of York. He had realigned himself by 1454. In 1455, for the first battle of St Albans, he was a dashing Yorkist. In 1459–60 he was York’s most formidable champion. Following the duke’s death, he masterminded the victory over Lancaster of York’s son and his usurpation as Edward IV. At first Warwick and his brothers ruled, whilst Edward merely reigned. Parting company acrimoniously, Warwick became Edward’s fiercest critic. In 1470 Edward was dethroned in favour of Henry VI until, finally, in 1471 Warwick himself fell in battle. Had he lived, perhaps King Henry could have retained his throne. Such a central figure has attracted biographers: Thomas Gainford’sUnmatchable Lifeand Death of Richard Nevill Earle of Warwicke in his tyme the darling and favoriteof kingsof 1618 × 1624 and more recently the lives by Sir Charles Oman (1909), K. H. Francis (1916), and Paul Murray Kendall (1957). More material and new insights demand a more coherent and complete treatment.

Warwick is a household name. For those of a certain age who learnt the whole of English history by rote, he is forever the ‘wicked baron’ to whom contenders for the crown submitted application forms that specified their preferred means of death.1 Yet no household name is so little known.2 Like other late medieval politicians Warwick was depicted by Shakespeare. Following theMirror forMagistrateshe was ‘thou plucker down and setter up of kings’, but only in theHenry VItrilogy, hardly the playwright’s most memorable or most frequently performed plays. Fortunately perhaps, since Shakespeare merged our Warwick with an earlier earl, his father-in-law and war hero, and made him the proposer of York’s usurpation rather than its obstacle.3

Scarcely anybody in the past ninety years has favoured Warwick, observes Professor Richmond. A reassessment is perhaps overdue? In the way stands ‘Warwick’s amorality: he seems to have been the first of the serial killers of the Wars of the Roses’.4 Even for Kendall, Warwick was ‘a gigantic failure...because he poisoned his character...[and] sold what he was for what he ought to be’.5 Kendall refers here to Warwick’s deposition of Edward, which to a modern audience involved the overturning of his whole career and hence identified him with egotism and selfishness. This latebouleversement(reversal) has become the touch-stone of his whole career.

If Warwick is controversial now, it is in part because he was controversial in his own day. Victory for York and maritime renown were earned at the expense of Lancastrians and Burgundians. It is one of the Lancastrians’ misfortunes that their point of view was not preserved. Burgundian writers did however record their hatred of Warwick, a bogeyman akin to Talbot, and celebrated his death in verse and prose. For them, summarizes Livia Visser-Fuchs:

he was proud, a trickster and a coward who was a hero in his own thoughts and a child in his actions; a poor idiot whose hands were unable to hold all that he tried to grasp; a fool and a traitor rushing towards his end; and as a crowning insult he is made to say of himself that we must not regard him as one of the Nine Worthies, but rather as a character from Boccaccio, a conceited but helpless victim of Fortune’s wheel...Warwick’s fall...was another instance of how men and cities, through theiroultrecuidance, their excessive pride, could not but come to grief in the end and serve as a warning to others.6

There is a savage vindictiveness to the assessments of Georges Chastellain and Thomas Basin. Such French and Burgundian testimony was concealed from centuries of English historians in distant manuscripts in foreign languages.

Warwick was fortunate that there was no alternative view to the hero of the English, Yorkist, sources. Surely no other English medieval magnate attracted such acclaim during his life and since? His break with Edward was generally attributed to Edward’s foolish marriage; Warwick was not at fault. It was not Warwick who was inconsistent. He was justified in feeling slighted by the king’s match. His honour was unjustifiably impugned when he was required to answer smears of treason by Edward, who overlooked how much he owed the earl. Warwick’s change of allegiance, his defeat and death did not prevent generally favourable interpretations. ‘Thow froward fortune hym deceuyd at his ende’, wrote his chaplain John Rous, he remained always:

A famus knyght and excellent gretly spoken of thorow the moste parte of christendam...He had all England at his ledyng and was dred and dowhyted thorow many landis. And thow froward fort[u]ne hym deceuyd at his ende yot his knyghtly acts had be so excellent that his noble and famous name could neuer be put owt of laudable memory.7

‘I was no hippocrite,’ the earl is made to say inThe Mirror for Magistrates(1559).

I never did nor sayd, save what I mente,

The common weale was still my chiefest care,

To priuate gayne or glory I was not bent...

Which whan the people playnly vnderstoode,

Bycause they sawe me mind the common weale

They still endeuored how to do me good,

Ready to spend their substaunce, life, and blud,

In any cause wherto I did them move

For suer they wer it was for their behove.

Hence Warwick’s opposition to the abuses under Henry VI.

But whan king Edward sinful prankes stil vsed,

And would not mend, I likewise him refused:

And holpe vp Henry the better of the twayne

And in his quarel (iust I thinke) was slayne.

‘Sure’, observed theMirror,‘I thinke the Erle of Warwike although he wer a glorious man, hath sayd no more of him selfe than what is true.’8 When Warwick turned against Edward IV, the latter commissioned new histories hostile to the earl, but these reposed in manuscript until Victoria’s reign9 and thus missed the publicity given to Warwick’s own manifestos that were printed in theAnnalesof Englandof the Elizabethan John Stow. For four centuries of historians it was the earlier, Yorkist, Warwick that was praised.

‘Of him, it was said that he made kings and at his pleasure cast them down’, wrote the Scot John Major (1521), when first dubbing him the kingmaker in Latin (regum creator).10 The English translation was first deployed by the Elizabethan Samuel Daniel and achieved currency only in the eighteenth century with David Hume;11 during the interim ‘the great’, ‘the stout earl of Warwick’ and ‘Warwick make-king’ were preferred.12 It was Warwick’s glory to have made and unmade kings. To his first biographer, he deserved the surname

Great, by reason of his hospitality, riches, possessions, popular love, comelynes of gesture, gracefulnes of person, industrious valour, indefati-gable paynstaking and all the signatures of a royal mynde and generous spirite.13

For Thomas Carte (1750) Warwick was ‘the most popular man of the age, universally beloved and esteemed. He was undoubtedly the greatest subject in England for power and estate and deserved all the popularity he enjoyed’.14 For Warwick’s fellow northerner James Raine the Elder (1834), the earl was:

‘the greatest subject that ever lived...His marriage with the heiress of the Beauchamps added to the splendour of his inheritance and his valour and extraordinary energy, combined with his profuse liberality and fascinating manners, rendered him the idol of the multitude. He was, in good truth, the setter up and putter down of kings.

He was ‘King Edward’s father’ who ‘trained him up’, ‘the Soul of Edward’s Army’, even worthy of the crown itself. He stood for the public good.15 He was a romantic or heroic subject to nineteenth century-painters. Those cited above are merely the most extravagant of many tributes.

Such hero-worshipping historians were themselves the products of an age of aristocracy. They still understood and respected the lineage, magnificence, largesse, hospitality, committed retainers, ruthless justice, courage, boldness and frankness that they perceived in Warwick. They praised him for his virtues and for his popularity with the people, which they attributed to his eloquence, to his generosity and hospitality, and to his good lordship, and illustrated always with the same examples fromFabyan’s Chronicleand Commines’sMémoires. ‘Warwicke had their hartes’, said Daniel.16 ‘The common people,’ wrote Edward Hall, ‘iudged hym able to do all thynges, and that without hym, nothyng to be well done’.17 ‘Send his soul rest’, asked theMirror, ‘for sure his bodye never had any.’18

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