In April 1469 parts of the north rose in rebellion against Edward IV. John Neville, the Earl of Northumberland – the Percy family having been displaced for a time – put down the rebellion killing Robin, if Polydore Vergil is to be believed. A second leader took on Robin’s authority and name and the rebellion continued. it’s worth pointing out that John was the Kingmaker’s brother and that the Kingmaker, a.k.a the Earl of Warwick, orchestrated the uprising. Amongst the rebels demands was the removal of the Woodville family from power.
The real identity of Robin is unknown. He may have been Sir John Conyers or his brother William. Sir John was Middelham’s steward, related by marriage to the Nevilles and would fight alongside the kingmaker at the Battle of Edgecote in July 1469. Conyers was one of the casualties of the battle. Equally, it seems unlikely that Warwick’s brother would put down a rebellion fermented by the Kingmaker. An alternative source for the uprising might be the Percy family who had suffered a serious setback at Towton when their rivals the Nevilles emerged victorious and the Lancastrian king was toppled from power. The north became a Neville stronghold and in 1464 Neville became the Earl of Northumberland – which did not go down well with the locals. It should also be added that the rebels weren’t keen on the tax situation. None-the-Less the Warkwarth Chronicle places the blame for the rebellion squarely on the shoulders of Warwick.
Part of the problem in terms of understanding the rebellion, or even rebellions, and its participants is that the chronicles are often written at a later date and/or by writers living in the south. The Croyland Chronicler was not a fan of anyone who lived north of the River Trent – which isn’t even the north in He-who-is-occasionally-obeyed’s opinion but then he comes from Cumbria and most of the country is the south so far as he’s concerned. The other problem is that there’s no record of trials – there is a set of records sent to Calais (remember Warwick was the Captain of Calais)
Anne, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as the ‘kingmaker’ was married to both Margaret of Anjou’s son, the Lancastrian heir to the throne and after this death at the Battle of Tewkesbury to Richard of Gloucester, the last Yorkist king.
Anne and her older sister Isabel grew up at Middleham where they met George of Clarence and Richard. Unfortunately their father’s relationship with George and Richard’s brother, King Edward IV soured after Edward married Elizabeth Woodville. In 1470, Warwick switched sides resulting in Anne’s marriage to Edward of Lancaster.
Following Warwick’s death at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471, Isabel and Anne became co-heiresses but their mother Anne Beauchamp, who was descended from the Despensers, had first to be declared legally dead before George could access his wife’s inheritance as Richard Neville was earl in jure uxoris. Anne remained countess of Warwick until her death in 1492 but her estates were nobbled by her sons-in-law, although in order to marry Anne, Richard effectively forewent much of his share. Anne had effectively become the ward of George and had no intention of sharing the kingmaker’s estates with anyone. Anne was probably destined for a nunnery but in the meantime the story went that she was hidden in the kitchens.
Richard, not known for his lack of perseverance, arranged for Anne to go into sanctuary and for a dispensation from the pope permitting their marriage. The wedding took place in 1472 and the couple returned to Middleham. Eventually Anne Beauchamp was permitted to join them. Isabel died in 1476 as a result of complications from childbirth or from TB. Anne Neville acquired some of her sisters estates as well as all but adopting her young son Edward.
Edward IV died in April 1483 and Richard was crowned in July having revealed to the world that Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville bigamously, rendering Edward V and his siblings illegitimate. Anne was crowned with him. Their only child, another Edward, became Prince of Wales. He died in Middleham in 1484 whilst his parents were journeying north to visit him. Anne, grieving for her only child, became unwell, probably from TB, and died in March 1485. She was buried in Westminster Abbey – Richard was said to have wept at her funeral although rumour already painted him as a wife killer plotting to marry his own niece. On the day Anne died there was a solar eclipse – it was said afterwards that Richard lost his favour with Heaven on the day his wife died.
Joan of Acre was one of Edward I’s daughters. Joan was born in Acre in 1272 whilst her father, Edward, was participating in the 9th crusade. Edward narrowly escaped assassination during the unsuccessful conflict but by September the family was on its way home. Edward and his wife paused in Sicily and it was whilst there were there than news arrived that Henry III was dead. Edward was now the king. Joan’s mother, Eleanor of Castile, left the baby with her mother Joan, Countess of Ponthieu and continued back to England arriving in 1274.
King Edward I used all of his children as diplomatic pawns to further his foreign policy. Edward of Carnarvon was betrothed four times in his childhood. Meanwhile Joan did not arrive in England until 1278 by which time her father was negotiating a match for her. Joan was betrothed to Hartmann von Hapsburg, son of King Rudolf I of Germany but he drowned in 1281. Her father took the opportunity to marry her off to Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester who was already married to someone else when Edward suggested the match. The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey on 30 April 1290.
Gilbert was a half-uncle by marriage to Edward I – bear with me. Henry III’s mother, Isabella of Angouleme, married Hugh de Lusignan after the death of King John. Isabella of Angouleme’s daughter Alice de Lusignan was married to Gilbert in 1253. Gilbert was ten at the time and the marriage was annulled in 1285 after King Edward approached the papacy. This had the effect of illegitimising Gilbert’s children with Alice but Gilbert, the 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford and 8th Earl of Gloucester was a very powerful baron who supported Simon de Montfort against Henry III. He only returned to the Crown faction when de Montfort formed an alliance with the Welsh prince Llewellyn ap Gruffudd. Edward wanted to bind the baron to the Crown through a marriage.
Joan was a princess with attitude – which was probably just as well given that her step-children were older than she was. Soon after her own wedding she was supposed to attend the wedding of her sister Margaret but she left court without her father’s permission. Edward expressed his wrath by giving seven dresses that had been destined for Joan to her sister instead.
Joan had four children before Gilbert died in 1295. Joan’s son Gilbert was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 whilst her daughters all ended up married to various of Edward II’s favourites.
Joan chose her own future after the death of her husband. Edward I was arranging for her to marry the count of Savoy but she had other ideas. She had fallen in love with her husband’s squire Ralph de Monthermer. She sent Ralph to see her father with the request that he be knighted and when he returned she quietly got married. Unfortunately she didn’t tell her father what she had done so he continued with his plans and formally announced the betrothal of Joan to the Count of Savoy. Edward was said to be so angry when he found out that he threw his crown into the fire.
More practically he had Ralph locked up in Bristol Castle, refused to see Joan and confiscated all the estates she inherited from her husband. Joan sent her daughters to see their grandfather and the Bishop of Durham. Edward seems to have calmed down when he realised that Joan was pregnant – in August 1297 Ralph was created earl of Gloucester and Hertford by right of his wife. After ten years of happy marriage Joan died at Clare in Suffolk on 23 April 1307. Her titles passed to her son and Ralph became 1st Baron Monthermer.
Eleanor was born in 1318 was Edward II’s and Isabella of France’s eldest daughter. Edward was so pleased that he gave the queen 500 marks. For the first six years of her life she and her elder brother John and younger sister Joan remained in the custody of their mother Isabella of France at Wallingford Castle. Her eldest brother Edward also lived there until he was given his own household. Edward ensured that the family were provided for with manors in Macclesfield and the castle and the honour of High Peak, Derbyshire providing income.
In 1324 the little family were taken from the queen and taken into the care of Eleanor de Clare the wife of Hugh Despenser the Younger. Despenser had taken the opportunity of an Anglo-French conflict to state that Isabella, as a Frenchwoman, was a dangerous alien. Her lands were confiscated, her servants sent away or arrested and her children taken from her.
Eleanor and her sister Joan of the Tower left Eleanor’s care and were handed over to Ralph de Monthermer and Isabel Hastings at Marlborough Castle. Isabel was Hugh Despenser’s sister which perhaps explains his decision but equally Ralph was his brother-in-law having been married to Joan of Acre. John remained in Despenser’s household.
In 1328, a year before Isabella and Mortimer were toppled from power, Eleanor found herself in the household of her brother Edward III’s wife Philippa of Hainault. By that time negotiations were underway for a marriage to the Crown of Aragon. This match fell through and Eleanor was betrothed then married to Reinoud II of Guilders. He had something of a reputation but the whole family were aware of the difficulties of royal marriages – Eleanor’s mother, Isabella of France, having had enough of her husband’s male favourites, went to France, began an affair with Edward II’s enemy Roger Mortimer, invaded the country and allegedly arranged for her erstwhile spouse to have a nasty accident with a poker before being toppled from power by her eldest son. Eleanor was nine when her father died.
Eleanor sailed from Sandwich with a luggage full of Spanish cloth of gold and crimson velvet. The people of Guilders were pleased with their new countess – she was an English princess after all and might be able to provide a male heir. Reinoud had four daughters already. She gave birth to a son the following year in 1333 and three years later provided a spare heir called Edward.
In 1336 she was sent from her husband’s court and he began proceedings for an annulment of their marriage. He claimed that she had leprosy. There’s no evidence to support the story, nor for that matter her resolution of the problem. She arrived at court wearing a cloak which she removed to reveal…well… all of her…without a stitch on. She was very clearly not leprous so her husband had to take her back. Reinoud was shown to be a liar. It can’t have helped domestic bliss.
Reinould fell off his horse and died in 1343 leaving a nine-year-old son. Eleanor assumed power as regent but in 1350 her son confiscated all her lands. She retired to a convent where she lived in poverty for five years before she died in 1355 – at the start of the 1360s her son Edward usurped his brother and made himself Duke of Guilders but kept his brother in prison rather than murdering him. After Edward died his elder brother, Reinoud, was released from captivity – by that time he had put on a bit of weight and would be known in the history books as Reinoud the Fat.
Alison Weir, Isabella She-wolf of France, Queen of England
Episode 4 of the podcast is now available in the series No plan like yours to study history wisely. Having covered the Normans and Plantagenets in previous podcasts we have now arrived at the house of Lancaster, descended from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. This week we cover Henry IV, Henry IV, and Henry VI.
Thomas was the youngest surviving legitimate son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainhault. He was born in 1355.
He married the co-heiress Eleanor de Bohun and moved into Pleshey Castle. Once ensconced he tried to persuade his young sister-in-law Mary de Bohun that what she really wanted to be was an impoverished nun leaving him to inherit everything by right of his wife. His mother-in-law and her sister had other ideas, conferred with Thomas’s older brother John of Gaunt and the next thing that Thomas knew was that his nephew Henry of Bolingbroke had married Mary.
Richard II created him Earl of Essex by right of his wife who was the elder of the two sisters and in 1385 he was made Earl of Aumale and Duke of Gloucester. Rather ungratefully in light of the titles Thomas was one of the Lords Appellant which not only put him at odds with his nephew Richard II but also with the family of his brother Edmund of Langley who were part of the Counter-Appellant faction. Ultimately Richard was revenged upon his uncle by having him arrested, taken to Calais and murdered.
Thomas and Eleanor had five children -the eldest was a boy. Philippa died young and Isobel became a nun. After his father’s arrest Humphrey was made a ward of the Crown – he was a Plantagenet after all. Richard took him and the son of Henry of Bolingbroke to Ireland with him in 1398 but Humphrey died before he could be reunited with his mother. Isabel de Bohun died soon after her son.
Anne of Gloucester was born in 1383 and married three times- firstly to Thomas Stafford, 3rd Earl of Stafford. He died in 1392 about two years after the marriage which was not consummated. His older brother Ralf was murdered by John Holland ( Richard II’s half brother, Elizabeth of Lancaster’s husband, Henry of Bolingbroke’s brother-in-law.) Husband number two was Edmund Stafford – the 5th Earl and Thomas and Ralf’s brother (there was another brother in between who was the 4th earl.)
Anne and Thomas had children –
HumphreyStafford became the 1st Duke of Buckingham. He married a cousin – Anne Neville, the daughter of the Earl of Westmorland and John of Gaunt’s daughter Joan Beaufort. Apparently Humphrey and Anne had somewhere in the region of twelve children but we are going to leave them alone for another day – suffice it to say there were many marriages of cousins including a couple of Margaret Beauforts covered in previous posts.
Anne Stafford married Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March – another cousin, rightful king of England in the eyes of supporters of Richard II and anti-Henry factions. The pair had no children. After Edmund’s death in 1425 she married John Holland the second Duke of Exeter – another cousin. This particular Holland was the son of the murderous John Holland (the one who killed Anne’s Uncle Ralph)and Elizabeth of Lancaster.
Philippa Stafford died young.
As for Ann Stafford and John Holland’s children there were a son and a daughter. Henry Holland became the 3rd Duke of Exeter. Despite being married to Richard of York’s daughter Anne (yet another cousin) he remained a Lancastrian and the marriage was not a happy one. He spent some time in the Tower once Edward IV was on the throne but went with Edward to France in 1475. He unaccountably fell overboard and drowned on the homeward journey – no one was particularly upset and his only legitimate child pre-deceased him.
Anne Stafford’s daughter was also named Anne. She was born somewhere about 1430 and like her mother was married three times. Firstly she married John Neville (another cousin) who died. Then she married John’s uncle somewhat confusingly also called John and a nightmare to explain on the papal dispensation I should imagine. He was killed at Towton. Then Anne married James Douglas the Earl of Douglas.
And finally back to Anne Stafford who was, you may remember, married three times. Her third husband was William Bourchier, Count of Eu. There were children and the was the whole cousin intermarriage business all over again.
It would perhaps have been easier to identify the leading families who were not descended from Edward III, Edward I or Henry III! History does not happen in a vacuum. The Wars of the Roses did not spring fully formed from the void caused by Henry VI’s breakdown. It was a family squabble that escalated across the generations and it was quite clearly not a cut and dried question of which side you were on given that the key families were like a board of directors running a family firm with increasingly hostile takeover bids being actioned!
Constance was the only daughter of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile. She was born at Conisburgh Castle – probably in 14374. Four years later she was betrothed to Edward le Despenser – who inconveniently died so she promptly became the betrothed of his brother Thomas. The pair were the great-grandson’s of Isabella of France’s lover – the ones who toppled Edward II from power – despite this they were still one of the wealthiest families in the country. Richard II gave Thomas the title Earl of Gloucester but this was stripped from him by Henry IV – leaving him as Baron Despenser of Glamorgan.
In 1392 Isabella of Castile died and Edmund of Langley married a bride who was younger than his daughter – Joan Holland (I’m starting to think that there must be at least one Holland in every post.) And just so we’re clear about this she was the daughter of Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent but the niece of John Holland who I mentioned in the previous post as being Isabella of Castile’s lover…not sure how that’s covered by papal dispensation.
The couple had several children but not all survived until adulthood. Richard survive to marry a cousin – Eleanor Neville the daughter of Joan Beaufort and the Earl of Westmorland – who I have posted about previously: https://thehistoryjar.com/2018/04/03/joan-beauforts-descendants-eleanor-neville-countess-of-northumberland/ He died without heirs. His title passed to his sister Isabella (a posthumous child) who was married twice, firstly to the Earl of Worcester and secondly to the Earl of Warwick – both men were called Richard Beauchamp. The latter marriage produced a daughter Anne. Anne was a wealthy heiress with both Despencer and Beauchamp lands. She married one of her Neville cousins who took the title of Earl of Warwick by right of his wife. History knows him as the Kingmaker. Constance’s great grand daughter Anne became queen of England when her husband the Duke of Gloucester (yet another cousin) became Richard III.
Just as Edmund of Langley and his sons were loyal to Richard II, so was Constance and her husband Thomas le Despenser. Unfortunately this meant that when Henry of Bolingbroke deposed his cousin that Constance’s family were left rather disgruntled. Thomas took part in the Epiphany Rising of 1400 and was executed in Bristol where he was captured as he attempted to flee – leaving Constance as the wife of an attainted traitor and totally reliant on her cousin Henry IV. There was also the fact that Constance’s brother Edward of Norwich was probably the person who betrayed the plot to Henry IV.
In 1405 Constance who had attained a position as governess to her Mortimer relations (Edmund Mortimer the young 5th Earl of March and rightful king in the eyes of many and his younger brother) absconded with them from Windsor to take them to their uncle in Wales.The refugees were recaptured a week later and the Earl of March found himself in closer confinement. Constance also implicated her brother Edward of Norwich in the plot – he was imprisoned for seventeen weeks. Again, this is recapping events which readers of the History Jar may well remember from earlier posts: https://thehistoryjar.com/2014/09/16/edmund-mortimer-5th-earl-of-march-from-the-house-of-mortimer-to-the-house-of-york/
There is another child – Constance had an affair with Edmund Holland the 4th Earl of Kent – her step-mother’s brother. A daughter resulted. Eleanor, was born at Kenilworth Castle in about 1405. She later married James Touchet, Lord Audley. Throughout her life she insisted that she was legitimate – that Constance and Edmund had married just as Joan of Ken had married by a verbal exchange of vows followed by consummation. The Holland family utterly refused to accept this.
Next the descendants of Thomas of Woodstock. As for the descendants of Edmund of Langley it is apparent from their histories that the Wars of the Roses in the Fifteenth Century which people at the time called the Cousins War had been simmering for three generations.
Edmund was born the year after John of Gaunt at Langley in Hertfordshire. When he was twenty-one he was created the Earl of Cambridge. He was created Duke of York by his nephew in 1385.
Edmund married twice. His first marriage was to Isabella of Castile. She was the sister of Constanza of Castile who was John of Gaunt’s second wife – he claimed the kingdom of Castile by right of his wife who was the elder of the sisters. Edward III had sought to marry Edmund into the royal house of Flanders during the period when he was looking to provide wealth and title to his sons but in 1372 Edmund married Isabella. By that time he was about 31 and Isabella was about 16.
It doesn’t appear to have been a very happy marriage if Isabella’s will is anything to go by. She died in 1392. She left property to her children, to Richard II and to the Duke of Lancaster but nothing to her husband. Despite this the pair had three children: Edward of Norwich born in 1373, Constance born in 1374 and Richard born in 1375 at Conisburgh Castle.
The chronicler Thomas of Walsingham was rather sniffy about Isabella’s morals. The reason for this is that Isabella had an affair with John Holland (they do get everywhere don’t they?) John Holland was the Duke of Exeter and Richard II’s half brother (executed in 1400). The affair appears to have started in 1374 which raised an interesting question about the legitimacy of Richard of Conisburgh who was the grandfather of Edward IV and Richard III. Remember though that even if he wasn’t Edmund’s son, and indeed Edmund left him nothing in his will, the Yorkist claim to the throne came from Richard’s marriage to Anne Mortimer – a descendant of Lionel of Antwerp rather than the York connection which was the junior line because Edmund of Langley was a younger brother.
Perhaps I’d better go back to the start with this one. John Holland has cropped up in a recent post because he had to marry John of Gaunt’s daughter Elizabeth when she became pregnant by him. This caused a scandal because her first marriage had to be annulled, her husband was too young to have consummated the marriage, so that she could marry John. John’s affair with Isabella was before he seduced Elizabeth. Even Chaucer wrote about about the affair – he describes Mars (John) kissing Venus (Isabella) but it would seem that whilst it was an open secret Edmund did acknowledge his youngest son and the affair fizzled out.
Isabella gave the bulk of her estate to Richard II when she died but asked that her youngest son should be provided by the king with a pension. Richard of Conisburgh was the king’s godson as well as being a royal cousin. The allowance that was granted was £500 but it was only paid occasionally and after the deposition of Richard II, Richard of Conisburgh was reliant on the generosity of another cousin Henry of Bolingbroke who was now Henry IV. Unfortunately Edmund of Langley and his children were counter appellants and had benefited from Richard II banishing Henry. They had been granted some of his lands for example.
Not only was this impecunious younger son not mentioned in Edmund of Langley’s will but Edward of Norwich also failed to mention him in his will either – Richard had been executed shortly before Edward’s death due to his part in the Southampton Plot which sought to depose Henry V. Richard was executed on 5th August 1415 for his part in the plot. Edward of Norwich was killed on 25 October 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt (he had no heirs.)