Fitzgerald, Gerald, Earl of Kildare

(1456–1513)
   The dominant political figure in IRELAND during the last phase of the Wars of the Roses, Gerald Fitzgerald, eighth earl of Kildare, continued his family’s Yorkist allegiance and maintained Ireland as a haven for Yorkist political activity.
   The son of Thomas FITZGERALD, seventh earl of Kildare, the eighth earl served as lord deputy of Ireland from 1478 to 1492 and again from 1496 until his death in 1513. As lord deputy to Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, EDWARD IV’S younger son, Kildare enjoyed great power and influence in the early 1480s. After 1483, RICHARD III, seeking to maintain Yorkist dominance in Ireland, appointed his son, Prince Edward, lord lieutenant, but left the government of Ireland in Kildare’s hands as the young Prince’s deputy. In 1485, after the death of Richard III and the accession of HENRY VII, Kildare remained loyal to the house of YORK. He welcomed Lambert SIMNEL to Ireland in 1487, accepting the young man’s claim to be Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick, the surviving Yorkist claimant to the English throne. In May 1487, Kildare allowed John de la POLE, earl of Lincoln and nephew to Richard III, to land in Dublin with 2,000 men provided by Lincoln’s aunt, MARGARET OF YORK, duchess of BURGUNDY. On 24 May, Kildare attended the Dublin coronation of Simnel as “Edward VI,” and governed Ireland in “King Edward’s” name in defiance of Henry VII. However, in 1488, a year after Simnel and Lincoln invaded England from Ireland and came to ruin at the Battle of STOKE, Kildare submitted to Henry VII and was pardoned. He lost the deputyship and again fell out of favor in the mid-1490s when he was suspected of supporting Perkin WARBECK, a Yorkist pretender who claimed to be the duke of York, the younger son of Edward IV. Attainted by the Irish PARLIAMENT of 1494, Kildare spent two years in the TOWER OF LONDON before being restored as lord deputy in 1496.To prevent Ireland from again becoming a launchpad for Yorkist invasions, Henry VII made a concerted effort to win Kildare’s support. To enhance his position with the English landowners resident in Ireland, Kildare was given many marks of royal favor, including being allowed to marry the king’s kinswoman, Elizabeth St. John. In 1504, the king rewarded Kildare with a Garter knighthood (i.e., membership in a prestigious chivalric order) for his victory over Irish rebels at the Battle of Knockdoe. Having made his peace with the house of TUDOR, Kildare remained lord deputy into Henry VIII’s reign, dying in September 1513.
   See also Yorkist Heirs (after 1485)
   Further Reading: Bryan, Donough, Gerald Fitzgerald, the Great Earl of Kildare, 1456-1513 (Dublin:Talbot Press, 1933); Cosgrove, Art, Late Medieval Ireland, 1370-1541 (Dublin: Helicon, 1981); Lydon, James, Ireland in the Later Middle Ages (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1973); OtwayRuthven, A. J., A History of Medieval Ireland (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1980).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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