Grey, Edmund, Earl of Kent

(c. 1420–1489)
   In the summer of 1460, Edmund Grey, future earl of Kent, helped alter the course of the WARS OF THE ROSES and revitalize the Yorkist cause by switching sides at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON.
   Grey served in FRANCE in the late 1430s and was knighted in October 1440, only two weeks after succeeding his grandfather as fourth Lord Grey of Ruthyn. He generally supported HENRY VI during the 1450s, and declared himself the king’s man at the 1459 COVENTRY PARLIAMENT that attainted Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and his Neville allies. In July 1460, Grey commanded the right flank of the royal army at the Battle of Northampton; but when the Yorkist troops approached his part of the line,Grey ordered his men to lay down their arms and allow the Yorkists to enter the king’s camp. This betrayal of Henry VI was apparently preplanned, for Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, the Yorkist commander, had told his men to spare anyone wearing Grey’s BADGE, the black ragged staff. Thanks to Grey’s treachery, the Yorkists overwhelmed the royal army, slew such important Lancastrian lords as Humphrey STAFFORD, duke of Buckingham, and Thomas PERCY, Lord Egremont, and seized control of the king and the government. After he won the Crown in 1461, EDWARD IV rewarded Grey for his services to the house of YORK by naming him lord treasurer in 1463 and creating him earl of Kent in May 1466. In the mid-1460s, Grey’s son married a sister of Queen Elizabeth WOODVILLE. After about 1469, Kent seems to have withdrawn from politics and to have played little part either in the READEPTION of Henry VI in 1470 or the restoration of Edward IV in 1471 (see Edward IV, Restoration of). In 1483, Kent participated in the coronation of RICHARD III and in 1484 won confirmation of his titles from the new king. However, Kent received no other rewards from Richard, who perhaps considered the support of the aging and long inactive earl not worth buying. In 1487, two years after HENRY VII had overthrown Richard III, Kent again had his titles confirmed. The earl died in 1489.
   Further Reading: Haigh, Philip A., The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1995); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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