Dramatis Personae

Edmund Beaufort, [1st] 2nd Duke of Somerset (1406 -1455). 4th son of John Beaufort, the 1st Earl, he was involved in the French wars and the re-capture of Harfleur, KG in 1436, Earl of Dorset 1442, then a year later Marquess and, in 1444, succeeded his father as 4th Earl. After Suffolk’s removal and murder he became leader of the Lancastrian faction as court, handsome and urbane (he was rumoured to have had a clandestine affair with Queen Katherine in 1427) he was, nonetheless totally unscrupulous, killed at 1st St. Albans, on 22nd May 1455.

Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (1436 – 1464), previously Earl of Dorset, wounded at 1st St. Albans, a prime mover in the Lancastrian revival after the constitutional settlement of 1460, he fought at Wakefield and 2nd St. Albans, where his generalship proved superior. Defeated at Towton, he maintained the war in the north and though he capitulated in 1463, reverted the following year and was executed after the debacle at Hexham.

Edmund Beaufort, titular 4th Duke of Somerset (1438 – 1471) – younger brother of the 3rd Duke, led the Lancastrians in the campaign and battle of Tewkesbury, taken from sanctuary and beheaded the day after the defeat.

Thomas Bourchier (1404 – 1486) – younger son of William Bourchier, Count of Eu and Anne of Gloucester (half brother to Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham); educated at Oxford, Thomas entered the Church, where he rose with dizzying rapidity; Bishop of Worcester in 1434, of Ely in 1443 and finally Archbishop of Canterbury in 1454. At first he was neutral in the wars, inclining to the court, though an advocate for peace. After 1459, however, he became a Yorkist partisan and went on to crown Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, (he became Gloucester’s emissary for the surrender of the young Duke of York in 1483), and he then crowned the usurping Richard III before an effortless transition to the Tudor camp, crowning Henry VII.

William Catesby (1450 – 1485) – one of Richard III loyal adherents, vilified in the famous doggerel, a lawyer and leading figure in Parliament, he fell at Bosworth.

George, Duke of Clarence (1449 – 1478) – sixth son of Richard of York and Cicely Neville, one of four to reach maturity, elevated to his dukrdom in 1461, married Warwick’s elder daughter and joined in the conspiracies of 1469 – 1470. he reverted to his allegiance prior to Barnet but was eventually ‘privately’ executed in 1478.

 

Sir William Conyers of Marske (d. 1469), he, with his brother Sir John, were firmly of the Earl of Warwick’s affinity, centred on his great power base of Middleham. It is possible that Sir William was the true ‘Robin of Redesdale’ or ‘Robin Mend-all’. He led the rebel forces that confronted the Herbert brothers at Edgecote and perished in the melee.

 

John de Clifford, 13th Baron Clifford (1435 – 1461) – a long established family with extensive lands in the north-west. After his father, Thomas de Clifford, the 8th Baron (1414 – 1455) was killed at the 1st Battle of St. Albans, Clifford became a savage paladin of the House of Lancaster. He fought at Wakefield and is credited with the slaying of Richard, Duke of York’s second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland. He was, in turn, killed in the skirmish at Dintingdale prior to the Battle of Towton and his followers, ‘The Flower of Craven’ were decimated around him.

 

John de La Pole, Earl of Lincoln (1464 – 1487) – a nephew of Edward IV, son of Elizabeth Plantagenet and John de la Pole, who held a number of high offices in the Yorkist administration of the 1480’s. After the death of Edward of Middleham, Richard III only son, he became heir to the throne. Subsequently he engineered the Lambert Simnel conspiracy and fell in the defeat at Stoke. 

 

William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk (1396 – 1450) – one of Henry VI chief ministers and blamed for the loss of the French territories, subsequently impeached and murdered whilst attempting to quit the realm. He was the 2nd son of the 2nd Earl, Michael de la Pole, his older brother also Michael, fell at Agincourt. William became 4th Earl, later Marquess and 1st Duke; he held joint command at Orleans after the death of Salisbury.

 

John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk (1442 – 1491) – son of the first Duke and first husband of Margaret Beaufort, brother in law of Edward IV and father of the Earl of Lincoln. Though he fought for York at 1st St. Albans, he remained largely inactive thereafter.

 

John de Vere 12th Earl of Oxford (c. 1408 – 1462) – a Lancastrian by sentiment, did not fight at 1st St. Albans, arriving a day late, and was executed in 1462 for alleged plotting against Edward IV.

 

John de Vere 13th Earl of Oxford, (1443 – 1513) – a dedicated Lancastrian and something of a swashbuckler, he took Mont St. Michel in a daring coup de main and held it through an embarrassingly long siege. Imprisoned on his surrender at Hammes, he was able to join with Henry Tudor and was instrumental in the victory. He also led the van successfully at Stoke, two years later.

 

Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset (1451 – 1501) – Elizabeth Woodville’s son by her first, Lancastrian husband, remained loyal to Edward IV. He competed with Lord Hastings for the affections of a number of mistresses, including the celebrated Jane Shore. After the usurpation of Richard III he fled to join Henry Tudor, but his loyalty was never certain.

 

William, Lord Hastings (c. 1430 – 1483) – a stalwart Yorkist, he fought at Towton, Barnet and Tewkesbury, in the latter two engagements commanding a wing of Edward IV army. He was a favourite crony of the King, Lt. General of Calais and much disliked by the Woodville faction. A staunch ally of Gloucester’s, after Edward’s death, it may have been his doubts as to the Duke’s intentions that led to his summary execution.

 

Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke (d. 1469) – Herbert was a partisan of Edward IV with considerable sway in South Wales, his elevation to the earldom in 1468 was a slap for Warwick, with whom he clashed. His difficult temperament led to the row which weakened the King’s army before Edgecote and, after the fight both he and his brother Sir Richard Herbert were executed on Warwick’s orders.

 

Henry VI of England (1422 – 1471) – came to the throne as a minor on the death of his father Henry V, his reign witnessed the steady decline of English fortunes in France and a growing crisis at home. He married Margaret of Anjou in 1445 and was captured by the Yorkists after 1465, briefly re-occupying the throne during the Re-adeption, engineered by Warwick. He was killed in 1471 after the Battle of Tewkesbury.

 

Henry VII of England (1457 - 1509) – son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond and Lady Margaret Beaufort, nephew to Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke was a leading Welsh Lancastrian. His claim to inherit the mantle of the House of Lancaster was more expedient than real.

 

Henry Holand, 3rd Duke of Exeter (d. 1475) – despite his wedding to one of York’s daughters he came to be implicated in the disturbances of 1453 as a partisan of the Percies. He fought at Blore Heath, Wakefield, 2nd St. Albans, Towton and Barnet, where he was left for dead on the field but escaped, (his Yorkist wife had abandoned him, some time before!) He escaped to the continent, where he was reduced to beggary though he met his end as a prisoner in the Tower in dubious circumstances.

 

Lord John Howard, Duke of Norfolk (1430 – 1485) – a dedicated Yorkist, he fought at Towton and rose to Earl Marshall in 1483, loyal supporter of Richard III, he fell leading the Yorkist van at Bosworth. His son, Sir Thomas Howard, (d. 1524) was likewise unshakeable in his affinity. He fought at Barnet and became, Earl of Surrey in 1483. Under a cloud and imprisoned after Bosworth, he was re-habilitated and regained his estates, a loyal councillor to both Henry VII and his son. At the age of seventy he scored his greatest triumph when he led an English army to an overwhelming victory against the Scots at Flodden in September, 1513. 

 

Edward of Lancaster, (1453 – 1471); only child of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou (some questions were raised as to his legitimacy). He was raised in exile in readiness for an attempt to recover his father’s throne. Allied to the Kingmaker, by marriage to a younger daughter, his chance came, and went, together with his life, at Tewkesbury

 

Francis Lovell, 9th Baron 1st Viscount Lovell (144? – 1487) – a key figure in the administration of Richard III, he survived Bosworth and joined in the Lambert Simnel conspiracy. He probably met his end after the disaster at Stoke, possibly drowned or, even more mysteriously, dying of starvation in a hidden cellar of his property at Minster Lovell.

 

Edward, Earl of March, (1442 – 1483), King of England 1461 – 1470 and 1471 – 1483. “The Sunne in Splendour”, eldest son of the Duke of York and Cicely Neville, (“The Rose of Raby”), victor of Mortmer’s Cross, Towton, Empingham, Barnet and Tewkesbury. He secretly married Elizabeth Woodville.

 

Margaret of Anjou (1429 - 1482) – daughter of the impecunious Rene I of Sicily, Duke of Anjou, King of Naples and Sicily, married to Henry VI of England at the age of 15. Beautiful and vivacious she was strong minded and with her favourite the Duke of Somerset, dominated the Lancastrian court faction and, until 1463, was the mainspring of resistance in the north, where she had been prepared to swap the twin bastions of Berwick upon Tweed and Carlisle in return for Scottish arms. She was kept in the Tower after the disaster at Tewkesbury until finally being released in 1475. She spent her final years in Anjou. 

 

John Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1415 – 1461) – It was Norfolk’s arrival on the field of Towton, at the eleventh hour, which turned the tide, he was already terminally ill at this point. York’s nephew he had previously fought at 1st St. Albans

 

Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury (1400 - 1460) – younger son of the Earl of Westmorland, his mother was Joan de Beaufort and he married Alice Montacute, Countess of Salisbury. KG in 1438 he received the lesser share of the family estates on the east side. In addition to his feud with the Percies he was at odds with the senior branch of the Nevilles. Brother in law to the Duke of York, he was active in Yorkist councils and a senior statesman in the cause, killed after Wakefield with one of his sons Sir Thomas Neville (d. 1460, whose marriage to Maud Stanhope, fanned the flames of the Percy/Neville feud. 

 

William Neville, Lord Fauconberg (c.1410 -1463), younger son of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland, brother of the Earl of Salisbury, and a veteran of the French Wars. Knighted in 1426, castellan of Roxburgh, KG 1440, captured in 1449 and subsequently ransomed, he, like York, was owed substantial sums by the crown. Though a staunch Lancastrian prior to 1455, he successfully led the Yorkist van at Northampton and Towton, acquired his title by right of his wife, (who lacked mental capacity), became Earl of Kent and Lord Admiral.

 

Thomas Neville, ‘Bastard’ of Fauconberg (d. 1471), Fauconberg’s illegitimate son something of a swashbuckler and buccaneer, awarded the freedom of the City of London in 1454 for his actions against pirates in the Channel. Following Warwick’s switch of allegiance, he was active on the Lancastrian side in 1471 and, though pardoned, suffered execution later in that year.

 

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1428 – 1471) – known as “The Kingmaker”, mightiest of the over mighty subjects and a pivotal figure in the period. He was Salisbury’s eldest son and York’s nephew, married a daughter of the de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. He fought at 1st St. Albans, Northampton, 2nd St. Albans and Towton. Seeing himself as the power behind the throne he was increasingly alienated from Edward IV, following the Woodville marriage. His final manipulation led to the ‘re-adeption’ of Henry VI in the coup of 1470. He, with his brother Lord Montagu, was killed at Barnet in the following spring.

 

John Neville, Lord Montagu (d. 1471) – the Earl of Warwick’s younger brother, an able soldier and administrator, principal architect of the Yorkist victory in the north from 1461 – 1464. Temporarily installed as Earl of Northumberland, he was later stripped of the title and though partly compensated, joined his brother in the coup of 1470, dying with him at Barnet.

 

George Neville, (d. 1476), brother of John, Thomas and Richard, entered holy orders and became Bishop of Exeter and then Archbishop of York, sided with his brother in the rising against Edward IV in 1469, the Archbishop on presenting himself before the king as the latter was, effectively captured, appeared in full harness.

 

Thomas Percy, Lord Egremont (1422 – 1460), younger son of the 2nd Earl of Northumberland, created Lord Egremont in 1445, violent and thuggish an actor in the Percy/Neville feud on the early 1450’s. He was killed at Northampton.

 

Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland (d. 1455), son of the famous Henry Percy “Hotspur”, killed at Shrewsbury in 1403. He gradually clawed back the family lands after his father’s attainder, involved in the rivalry with the Nevilles and killed at 1st St. Albans.

 

Henry Percy, Lord Poynings, later 3rd Earl of Northumberland (d. 1461) – Border Warden after his father, he was one of the leading northern Lancastrians, fighting at Wakefield, 2nd St. Albans and Towton, where he fell. The title was, once again attainted after his death, passing to John Neville, Lord Montagu. Edward IV subsequently restored his son, who became the 4th Earl. A far slipperier character than his father, determined to be on the winning side. He appeared to work well with Richard III, as Duke of Gloucester from 1471 – 1483, though his role at Bosworth was ambivalent. He flourished briefly under Henry VII but was murdered by a mob of rioters in York.

 

Sir Ralph Percy (d.1464) – Margaret of Anjou’s champion in the North from 1461 – 1464, though prone to switching allegiance, he reverted to Lancaster for the last time before the rout at Hedgeley Moor, where he died fighting.  

 

Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1402 – 1460) – married to York’s sister Anne, perceived as a peacemaker, champion of the ‘Loveday’ accord, fought at 1st St. Albans and died at Northampton. He was the son of Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Buckingham and Anne of Gloucester, a grand-daughter of Edward III. Knighted 1421, KG 1429, active on the Privy Council from 1429, served extensively and with distinction in France, created Duke in 1444.

 

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1454? – 1483) – married, against his will to one of Elizabeth Woodville’s seemingly endless line of sisters, he became a prime mover in the counsels of the Duke of Gloucester leading up to and during the usurpation. Disappointed, he later rebelled, a still-born affair, leading to his execution.

 

Thomas, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby (1435 – 1504) – 4th husband of Margaret Beaufort and a leading magnate in the north-west, he at first served but, at Bosworth, betrayed Richard III his intervention being decisive in the King’s defeat, a defection which earned him a peerage.

 

Sir William Stanley (d. 1495) – younger brother of Thomas, led the Stanley affinity into the fight at Bosworth, an inveterate plotter he later conspired against Henry VIII and was subsequently beheaded, famed as ‘the richest commoner in England’.

 

John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester (d. 1470) – held the office of Constable of England 1462 – 1467 and again in 1470, noted both for his extensive literary tastes, his outstanding library and his severity. He was universally reviled and Warwick had him executed in 1470, primarily as a sop to widespread clamour.

 

Sir Andrew Trollope (d. 1461) – successful soldier who fought in the French Wars, appointed as Master Porter of Calais, and acted firstly, as an advisor to York, his defection, provoked the collapse of morale and subsequent ‘Rout’ of Ludford. He may have been instrumental in the Lancastrians winning tactics at Wakefield and fought with distinction at 2nd St. Albans. His luck finally ran out at Towton.

 

Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond (1430 – 1456) – the son of Owen Tudor (d. 1461, executed after Mortimer’s Cross), and Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V, he married the formidable Margaret Beaufort and fathered Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, before succumbing to a bout of the plague.

 

Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke (1431 – 1495) – brother of Edmund, a diehard Lancastrian, he fought at 1st St. Albans, Mortimer’s Cross and Towton, an unfortunate combination of engagements. After an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Harlech, he fled, in 1468 to Brittany, after Bosworth subsequently married Buckingham’s Woodville widow.

 

Lord Wenlock (c. 1400 – 1471) – a venerable survivor of the French wars, he proved a steadfast Yorkist, fighting at Mortimer’s Cross and Towton. He nonetheless supported Warwick in 1470 and survived to be killed at Tewkesbury, possibly felled by Somerset himself, in a fit of suspicion.

 

Queen Elizabeth Woodville (1437 – 1492) – married to the Lancastrian knight Sir John Grey of Groby, and then widowed, Edward IV married her in secret to the great consternation of his supporters, most particularly Warwick, who had been seeking to broker a French alliance. Noted for her ruthless avarice and rapacity, her family were excoriated for their shameless greed.

 

Richard Woodville 1st Earl Rivers (d. 1469) – Elizabeth’s father, married to Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of the Earl of Bedford, Henry V brother and regent after his death. Initially an adherent of Lancaster, fighting at Towton, he held high office under his son in law, earning the powerful enmity of the Earl of Warwick, who had him executed after the defeat at Edgecote.

 

Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers (1442 – 1483) – he fought for his brother in law with some distinction at both Barnet and Tewkesbury, notable in the lists and something of a poet. He was a victim of Richard of Gloucester coup in 1483. Despite early reassurances from his brother in law, he was subsequently and summarily executed.  

 

Elizabeth of York (1466 – 1503) – eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville,  possibly pursued by her uncle Richard III, after his widowhood, she eventually married Henry Tudor, thus effecting the symbolic union of Lancaster and York.

 

Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy (1446 – 1503) – sister of Edward IV she was married to the quixotic Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (d. 1477), she remained a Yorkist intermeddler after the death of her brother at Bosworth.

 

Richard, 3rd Duke of York (1411 – 1460) – the senior member of the Yorkist faction, with a strong claim to the throne, active in the later stages of the French wars, a bitter opponent of Somerset, Lord Protector on two occasions, claimed the throne in 1460 and was killed at Wakefield at the end of that year.

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