Biography: Richard Neville,16th Earl of Warwick

62624506_129166816586Also known as “the Kingmaker”. (Born November 22, 1428- Died April 14, 1471). Son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montacute, 5th Countess of Salisbury. Married to Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick. Father of Isabel, Duchess of Clarence and Anne, Queen of England. Warwick “the Kingmaker” was the man who helped put Edward IV on the throne, but it was his greed for power and a broken alliance with Edward IV that would lead to his downfall.

Richard Neville was born on November 22, 1428 to Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury and Alice Montacute, 5th Countess of Salisbury. His father had gained his title of Earl of Salisbury through his marriage to Alice Montacute. We don’t know much about Richard’s childhood except that he was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp at the age of six. She was the daughter of daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, and of his wife Isabel Despenser, making Richard not only the heir to the earldom of Salisbury, but heir to a large part of the Montague, Beauchamp, and Despenser inheritance. With the death of Beauchamp’s son Henry, who was married to Richard’s sister Cecily in 1446 and the death of Henry’s daughter Anne in 1449, Richard found himself the new Earl of Warwick. This was disputed by Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, who married another one of Beauchamp’s daughters from Beauchamp’s first marriage, not because of the titles since the daughters were barred from the line of succession, but because of the land. Richard Neville was now the 16th Earl of Warwick.

Warwick became a knight probably at the coronation of Margaret of Anjou on April 22, 1445. He and his father helped to calm the unrest in the north. They may have helped in the war against Scotland in 1448-1449. When Richard, Duke of York, rose against the king in 1452, Warwick and his father sided with Henry VI and York’s revolt ultimately failed.

In June 1453, Somerset was granted custody of the lordship of Glamorgan, which was part of the Despenser inheritance. This made Warwick upset and a conflict started between the two men. Unfortunately, Somerset was an ally of Margaret of Anjou and was a favorite in the court of Henry VI so Warwick had no choice but  to align himself with York. When York became the Lord Protector when Henry VI fell ill, Warwick and his father decided to fully support York. York’s first protectorate would not last long and Somerset fell back into favor, which angered York and Warwick. Warwick rallied an army with York and Warwick’s father and met Somerset at the First Battle of St. Albans, where Somerset was killed. This battle was the start of the Wars of the Roses.

After the First Battle of St. Albans, Henry VI fell ill again and York became Lord Protector for a second time. It didn’t last long, but after York was removed from his position of Protector, Warwick was granted  the title of Constable of Calais, which would become a valuable position during the conflict of the Wars of the Roses. He was able to gain military experience, as well as gain important allies Charles VII of France and Philip the Good of Burgundy. In  September 1459, Warwick was able to help lead a Yorkist army to victory against the Lancastrians at the Battle of Blore Heath. In 1459, at the battle of Ludlow, the Lancastrians won and sent the Yorkists into hiding. York fled to Ireland with his son Edmund Earl of Rutland, while Warwick took Edward Earl of March with him to Calais. The Yorkists came back with a vengeance at the battle of Northampton, where Henry VI was taken captive.

In 1460 York officially declared his claim to the throne. After much discussion, it was agreed that after the king died, York and his sons would be the heirs to the throne, removing Edward of Westminster from the line of succession. Henry VI seemed to have been okay with this arrangement, but Margaret was beyond upset. She led the Lancastrian forces to face off against York at the battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460. York and his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland, were killed in the battle. Edward was 18 at the time of his father’s death.

Edward was now in charge of the Yorkist faction and with the help of Warwick, he was able to defeat the Lancastrian army at both the battle of Mortimer’s Cross and the Second Battle of St. Albans in February 1461. On March 4, 1461, Edward declared himself king of England, a move that his father never attempted to make. Three weeks later at the Battle of Towton on March 29, 1461, the bloodiest battle on English soil, Edward  and Warwick were able to decisively beat Henry VI’s forces and secure Edward’s claim to the throne. Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou fled to Scotland to seek the aid of James III.

Edward was declared Edward IV and  was welcomed to the throne. Edward owed a lot to his cousin Warwick, also known from that point on as  “the Kingmaker”, and he rewarded him greatly. He was made the Chamberlain of England , High Admiral of England and Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster, along with several other offices. Warwick was considered the second most powerful man in England. Warwick’s  brothers also benefited: John Neville, Lord Montagu, was made Warden of the East March in 1463, and the next year created Earl of Northumberland. George Neville, Bishop of Exeter, was confirmed in his post as chancellor by King Edward, and in 1465 was promoted to the archbishopric of York. In the summer of 1462, Warwick was able to negotiate a truce with  both Scotland and France, which allowed Warwick to be granted Lancastrian properties.

Warwick and Edward were considered close. However that would change very quickly. Warwick knew that Edward would have to marry well and so under his own initiative, he set to secure an alliance with the French King Louis XI by marrying Edward IV to the French king’s daughter Bona of Savoy. Edward wasn’t really thrilled about an alliance with France; he had actually prefered an alliance with Burgundy. Edward decided to take the issue of  his marriage into his own hands. In May 1464, he secretly married Elizabeth Woodville, the daughter of the 1st Lord of Rivers and Jacquetta Rivers, and the widow of Sir John Grey. They were able to keep the marriage a secret for over four months and when it was announced, there was an uproar. Her family was always supporters of the Lancastrian cause and there was a rumor, that we cannot confirm or deny as of right now, that Edward entered into a similar marriage contract with Lady Eleanor Butler a year or two before he married Elizabeth.

Warwick was obviously the most upset about this marriage because he had spent so much time setting up an alliance  with France to be thwarted. With the rise of the Woodvilles, Warwick feared that they would overthrow his title of the second most powerful man in England. Edward thwarted Warwick’s plans to marry his family with the king’s and the final straw for Warwick was when Edward married his sister Margaret to Charles duke of Burgundy, cementing an alliance between England and Burgundy, which was not what Warwick wanted. Warwick realized that the gap between him and Edward was too large.

Warwick decided to side with Edward’s power hungry younger brother George Duke of Clarence, and Louis XI of France, who promised Warwick land in France if he overthrew Edward. Warwick’s plan was to depose Edward and  place George on the throne. In July 1469, Warwick successfully married George to his daughter Isabel, which was something that Edward did not approve of. Warwick then started a series of uprisings in northern England; Edward was a popular king but his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville sullied his image a little while Warwick was seen as a national hero. Edward did employ an army, but when he saw that he was outnumbered, he dispersed his army and allowed himself to be captured by Warwick. Warwick had Edward imprisoned in the Tower, but when his reputation began to suffer, he released Edward in October 1469. Warwick and George both  decided to reconciled with Edward but Edward never truly trusted either of them ever again.

Warwick knew that if he was going to restore his power, he had to discuss matters with Louis XI and Margaret of Anjou, which meant that he had to defect to the Lancastrian cause, which he did. In September 1470, Warwick and his rebellion made its way to England. John Neville switched sides, which left Edward unprepared and it forced him to leave England on October 2 and seek aid from his brother in law the duke of Burgundy. Warwick removed Henry VI from the Tower and restored him to the throne. Warwick made a mistake and decided to take Louis XI’s advice and declare war on Burgundy. This forced the duke of Burgundy, who had stayed on the sidelines this entire time, to help Edward IV raise an army. Edward returned to England on March 11, 1471. His army defeated Warwick’s army at the Battle of Barnet, where Warwick and John Neville were killed.

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