Fitzgerald, Thomas, Earl of Kildare

(d. 1478)
   The dominant political figure in IRELAND from the mid-1450s until his death, Thomas Fitzgerald, seventh earl of Kildare, closely allied himself and his family with the house of YORK and made Ireland a Yorkist stronghold. Between 1455 and 1459, Kildare served as lord deputy of Ireland for the English lord lieutenant, Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York.When York fled England after the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE in October 1459, he withdrew to Ireland, where he was warmly welcomed by Kildare. Although the government of HENRY VI strove over the next year to weaken Kildare’s Yorkist connection, the earl remained loyal to York. In 1461, he was handsomely rewarded by EDWARD IV, who granted Kildare various long-lost family lands and named the earl lord deputy (to Edward’s brother George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence).
   Kildare served as lord deputy or as chancellor of Ireland for most of the 1460s and 1470s, but in 1468, Kildare and his cousin, Thomas FITZGERALD, earl of Desmond, lost favor with the new English lord deputy, John TIPTOFT, earl of Worcester.When landowners in the Pale (i.e., the most Anglicized region of Ireland around Dublin) complained of the exactions imposed upon them by the earls for the maintenance of their troops, Worcester had both men attainted, and had Desmond executed. However, because Edward IV soon found Ireland difficult to govern without Fitzgerald support, Kildare’s ATTAINDER was reversed and he was restored as lord deputy in 1470. The earl was thereafter secure in the royal favor and governed Ireland for Edward IV until 1475. Kildare died in March 1478.
   Further Reading: 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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