Herbert, William, Earl of Pembroke

(d. 1469)
   Entrusted with the government of WALES by EDWARD IV, William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, was one of the few fifteenth-century Welshmen to achieve an English PEERAGE and success in English politics. Born into a GENTRY family that had held land in Wales since the twelfth century, Herbert was knighted by HENRY VI in 1449 and served in FRANCE in the 1450s. An early adherent of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, Herbert, along with his father-in-law, Walter DEVEREUX, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, seized Carmarthen and Aberystwyth castles for the duke in 1456. Although they also imprisoned the king’s half brother, Edmund TUDOR, earl of Richmond, the Lancastrian regime treated Herbert leniently, seeking unsuccessfully to win his support.
   Herbert fought with Edward, earl of March (the future Edward IV) at the Battle of MORHERBERT, WILLIAM, EARL OF PEMBROKE 119 TIMER’S CROSS in February 1461; defeated Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke, at the Battle of TWT HILL in October; forced Tudor out of Wales in 1462; and captured the Lancastrians’ last Welsh stronghold at HARLECH CASTLE in 1468. In return for this loyal service, Edward IV raised Herbert to the peerage as Lord Herbert in 1461 and gave him the attainted Jasper Tudor’s earldom of Pembroke in 1468. Edward also gave Herbert custody of Pembroke’s nephew, Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, the future HENRY VII. Herbert eventually became a royal councilor, chief justice of North and South Wales, constable of most Welsh royal castles, and the holder of numerous other Welsh offices. He also vastly improved his financial position by securing significant grants of Welsh lands and lordships. By 1468, Herbert was virtually viceroy of Wales.
   Herbert’s ambition and success brought him into conflict with Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who envied Herbert’s unprecedented position in Wales and who coveted for himself some of Herbert’s Welsh lands and offices. After 1466, Herbert sought to make further gains at Warwick’s expense by working to widen the growing breach between the earl and the king. When Warwick fomented the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION in the north in 1469, Pembroke led a Welsh force into the field against the rebels. At the Battle of EDGECOTE on 26 July 1469, the rebels overwhelmed Pembroke’s force, taking the earl and his brother, Sir Richard Herbert, prisoners. Two days later both brothers were beheaded without trial at Northampton, by Warwick’s orders and in Warwick’s presence.
   Further Reading: Evans, H.T.,Wales and the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1995); Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998);“William Herbert,” in Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England (London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1991), pp. 317–318;Williams, Glanmor, Renewal and Reformation: Wales, c. 1415-1642 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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