Holland, Henry, Duke of Exeter

   By his intervention in the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD in the mid-1450s, Henry Holland (or Holand), fourth duke of Exeter, helped create the political alignments that destabilized royal and local government and brought about the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   The son of John Holland, duke of Exeter, and a cousin of HENRY VI, Holland married Anne, daughter of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, in 1447. He became duke of Exeter on his father’s death in 1447 but, being a minor, was not put in possession of his father’s estates until 1450. In 1453–1454, Exeter, who claimed certain estates that had fallen by marriage to the NEVILLE FAMILY, sided with the Percies in the series of violent encounters that erupted between the two families across northern England. In an effort to reduce this disorder, York, during his FIRST PROTECTORATE in 1454, traveled north to restrain Exeter, who, besides supporting the disruptive activities of Thomas PERCY, Lord Egremont, was also claiming the he, rather than York, should be protector of the realm during Henry VI’s illness. In July, after the failure of an attempt to ambush York, Exeter fled to LONDON, where he was arrested and confined in Pontefract Castle. In March 1455, after his recovery, Henry VI released Exeter and restored him to favor at COURT. However, in June, after his victory at the Battle of ST. ALBANS had initiated his SECOND PROTECTORATE, York again imprisoned Exeter, this time in Wallingford Castle. Released again upon the king’s resumption of power, Exeter became a staunch supporter of the house of LANCASTER, swearing an oath of allegiance to Henry VI at the COVENTRY PARLIAMENT of November 1459. He fought for Lancaster at the Battle of BLORE HEATH in 1459, the Battle of NORTHAMPTON in 1460, and the Battles of ST. ALBANS and TOWTON in 1461. After Towton, the duke fled into SCOTLAND with the Lancastrian royal family but by October was in WALES, where he fought alongside Jasper TUDOR, earl of Pembroke, at the Battle of TWT HILL. Forced to flee the country after that defeat, Exeter was attainted in November 1461 by EDWARD IV’s first PARLIAMENT, which placed the duke’s lands in the custody of his wife, Edward IV’s sister. In February 1471, after spending most of the 1460s in exile in BURGUNDY, Exeter returned to England to support the READEPTION government of Henry VI. Severely wounded and left for dead on the field at the Battle of BARNET, Exeter was carried to London and imprisoned until May 1475, when he was released to accompany Edward IV on his French expedition. The duke was drowned in September while returning to England from CALAIS.
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Storey,R. L., The End of the House of Lancaster, 2d ed. (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1999).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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