Howard, John, Duke of Norfolk

(d. 1485)
   A staunch Yorkist, John Howard was one of the few servants of EDWARD IV to remain loyal to the house of YORK in the 1480s after the usurpation of RICHARD III dethroned Edward’s son and reopened the civil wars. Born into a Suffolk GENTRY family, Howard was a maternal cousin of the Mowbray dukes of Norfolk. He served in FRANCE in the early 1450s, and was knighted by Edward IV after the Battle of TOWTON in 1461. Howard became the first Yorkist sheriff of Norfolk in 1461, served in the northern campaigns of the early 1460s, and was treasurer of the royal household from 1467. In 1470, Howard commanded a fleet against Richard NEVILLE, the rebel earl of Warwick, and was raised to the PEERAGE as Lord Howard. Remaining quiet during the READEPTION of HENRY VI in 1470–1471, Howard proclaimed for Edward IV in Suffolk immediately upon Edward’s landing in England in March 1471. He joined Edward in LONDON in April and fought for the Yorkists at the Battles of BARNET and TEWKESBURY. In the early 1470s, he was deputy at CALAIS for William HASTINGS, Lord Hastings, and in 1475 was one of the chief English negotiators with LOUIS XI during Edward IV’s French campaign. He remained briefly in France as a hostage to secure the settlement and took part in several later diplomatic embassies to the French COURT. In 1482, he participated in the campaign against SCOTLAND, commanding a fleet that ravaged the Firth of Forth. In 1481, on the death of his nine-year-old daughter-in-law, Anne Mowbray, daughter of John MOWBRAY, late duke of Norfolk, Edward IV, being unwilling to allow the extensive Mowbray inheritance to leave the royal family, denied Howard his rightful share of the Norfolk estates. On the king’s initiative, PARLIAMENT passed a statute vesting the Norfolk lands in eight-year-old Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, the king’s second son and Anne Mowbray’s husband.
   On Edward’s death in 1483, Howard supported the duke of Gloucester’s usurpation of the throne, being rewarded with elevation to the dukedom of Norfolk and appointment as marshal of England in June, even before Gloucester’s coronation as Richard III (see Usurpation of 1483). Named admiral of England in July 1483, Norfolk was also made steward of the royal Duchy of Lancaster. In the autumn of 1483, Norfolk was active in suppressing BUCKINGHAM’S REBELLION and in 1484 he was part of a diplomatic embassy sent to Scotland to arrange a truce. While acquisition of the Norfolk title was undoubtedly a strong incentive to back Gloucester, the duke seems to have been recognized as one of Richard III’s most committed supporters. On the morning of the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in August 1485, a placard appeared on Norfolk’s tent that read: “Jock of Norfolk be not too bold / For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.” Killed only hours later while leading the van of the royal army, Norfolk was attainted by the first Parliament of HENRY VII. The duke’s son, Thomas HOWARD, earl of Surrey, who was imprisoned after Bosworth Field,was eventually able to reverse the ATTAINDER and regain his father’s lands and titles through loyal service to the house of TUDOR.
   See also all entries under Mowbray
   Further Reading: Crawford, Anne,“The Private Life of John Howard:A Study of a Yorkist Lord, His Family and Household,” in P.W. Hammond, ed., Richard III: Loyalty, Lordship and Law (London: Richard III and Yorkist History Trust, 1986); “John Howard,” in Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England (London: ShepheardWalwyn, 1991), pp. 337–339; Ross, Charles, Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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