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Warwick's rebellion and the death of Henry VI::Wars of the Roses

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Warwick's rebellion and the death of Henry VI

The powerful Earl of Warwick ("the Kingmaker") had meanwhile become the greatest landowner in England. Already a great magnate through his wife's property, he had also inherited his father's estates and had been granted much forfeited Lancastrian property. He also held many of the offices of state. He was convinced of the need for an alliance with France and had been negotiating a match between Edward and a French bride. However, Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian knight, in secret in 1464. He later announced the news of his marriage as fait accompli, to Warwick's considerable embarrassment.

This embarrassment turned to bitterness when the Woodvilles came to be favoured over the Nevilles at court. Many of Queen Elizabeth's relatives were married into noble families and others were granted peerages or royal offices. Other factors compounded Warwick's disillusionment: Edward's preference for an alliance with Burgundy rather than France and reluctance to allow his brothers George, Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to marry Warwick's daughters Isabel and Anne. Furthermore, Edward's general popularity was on the wane in this period with higher taxes and persistent disruptions of law and order.

By 1469, Warwick had formed an alliance with Edward's jealous and treacherous brother George, who married Isabel Neville in defiance of Edward's wishes in Calais. They raised an army that defeated the king's forces at the Battle of Edgecote Moor. Edward was captured at Olney, Buckinghamshire, and imprisoned at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire. (Warwick briefly had two Kings of England in his custody.) Warwick had the queen's father, Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, and her brother John executed. However, he made no immediate move to have Edward declared illegitimate and place George on the throne.<ref>Rowse, p. 162</ref> The country was in turmoil, with nobles once again settling scores with private armies (in episodes such as the Battle of Nibley Green), and Lancastrians being encouraged to rebel.<ref>Baldwin, p. 43</ref> Few of the nobles were prepared to support Warwick's seizure of power. Edward was escorted to London by Warwick's brother George Neville, the Archbishop of York, where he and Warwick were reconciled, to outward appearances.

When further rebellions broke out in Lincolnshire, Edward easily suppressed them at the Battle of Losecoat Field. From the testimony of the captured leaders, he declared that Warwick and George, Duke of Clarence had instigated them. They were declared traitors and forced to flee to France, where Margaret of Anjou was already in exile. Louis XI of France, who wished to forestall a hostile alliance between Edward and Edward's brother-in-law Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, suggested the idea of an alliance between Warwick and Margaret. Neither of those two formerly mortal enemies entertained the notion at first, but eventually they were brought round to realise the potential benefits. However, both were undoubtedly hoping for different outcomes: Warwick for a puppet king in the form of Henry VI or his young son; Margaret to be able to reclaim her family's realm. In any case, a marriage was arranged between Warwick's daughter Anne and Margaret's son Edward of Westminster, and Warwick invaded England in the autumn of 1470.

Edward IV had already marched north to suppress another uprising in Yorkshire. Warwick, with help from a fleet under his nephew, the Bastard of Fauconberg, landed at Dartmouth and rapidly secured support from the southern counties and ports. He occupied London in October, and paraded Henry VI through the streets of London as the restored king. Warwick's brother John Neville, who had recently received the empty title Marquess of Montagu and who led large armies in the Scottish marches, suddenly defected to Warwick. Edward was unprepared for this event and had to order his army to scatter. He and Richard, Duke of Gloucester fled from Doncaster to the coast, and thence to Holland and exile in Burgundy. They were proclaimed traitors, and many exiled Lancastrians returned to reclaim their estates.

Warwick's success was short-lived, however. He overreached himself with his plan to invade Burgundy in alliance with the King of France, tempted by King Louis' promise of territory in the Netherlands as a reward. This led Edward's brother-in-law, Charles of Burgundy, to provide funds and troops to Edward to enable him to launch an invasion of England in 1471. Edward landed with a small force at Ravenspur on the Yorkshire coast. Initially claiming to support Henry and to be seeking only to have his title of Duke of York restored, he soon gained the city of York and rallied several supporters. His brother George turned traitor again, abandoning Warwick. Having outmaneuvered Warwick and Montagu, Edward captured London. His army then met Warwick's at the Battle of Barnet. The battle was fought in thick fog, and some of Warwick's men attacked each other by mistake. It was believed by all that they had been betrayed, and Warwick's army fled. Warwick was cut down trying to reach his horse. Montagu also was killed in the battle.

Margaret and her son Edward had landed in the West Country only a few days before the Battle of Barnet. Rather than return to France, Margaret sought to join the Lancastrian supporters in Wales and marched to cross the Severn but was thwarted when the city of Gloucester refused her passage across the river. Her army, commanded by the fourth successive Duke of Somerset, was brought to battle and destroyed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Her son Prince Edward, the Lancastrian heir to the throne, was killed. With no heirs to succeed him, Henry VI was murdered shortly afterwards, on 21 May 1471, to strengthen the Yorkist hold on the throne.


Wars of the Roses sections
Intro  Name and symbols  Summary of events  Origins of the conflict  Start of the war  Act of Accord  Death of Richard, Duke of York  Edward's claim to the throne  Yorkist triumph  Edward IV  Warwick's rebellion and the death of Henry VI  Richard III  Buckingham's revolt  Henry VII  Aftermath and effects  In literature  Key figures  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

Warwick's rebellion and the death of Henry VI
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