Langstrother, Sir John, Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem

   Sir John Langstrother, prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, strongly supported the restoration of the house of LANCASTER in 1470–1471.
   The son of Thomas Langstrother of Crosthwaite, Sir John, like his elder brother William, joined the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (also known as “the Hospitallers”), a military religious order established in the eleventh century to provide hospital care and military protection to pilgrims in Jerusalem during the Crusades. Ruled by a grand master, who by the fifteenth century was headquartered on the island of Rhodes, the order’s various national provinces were headed by grand commanders or priors. In 1467, after spending most of his early years in the eastern Mediterranean serving as castellan of Rhodes and grand commander of Cyprus, Langstrother won election as prior of the order in England, a position that had been held by Robert Botyll, a noted Yorkist. Because Langstrother’s Lancastrian sympathies were well known, EDWARD IV, in an unprecedented act, refused to sanction the Knights’ selection and suggested that they accept Richard Woodville as prior instead. A brother of Queen ELIZABETH WOODVILLE, Richard was only a youth and not a member of the Hospitallers. The grand master and council of the order rejected this suggestion and the office remained vacant for two years.
   When, after the Battle of EDGECOTE in July 1469, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, won temporary custody of the king and the government, he appointed Langstrother treasurer of England. Upon regaining his freedom in October, Edward dismissed Langstrother from office and committed him briefly to the TOWER OF LONDON but eventually accepted him as prior of the English Hospitallers. However, in March 1470, Langstrother involved himself in Warwick’s second coup attempt by meeting secretly in LONDON with Warwick’s allies, including George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence. After the failure of the coup, Langstrother probably fled to the continent with Warwick, for he returned to England with the earl in September (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). Entering London on 5 October in the company of George NEVILLE, archbishop of York, Langstrother took command of the Tower for the newly established READEPTION government of HENRY VI. Within days, the prior was reappointed treasurer and also named warden of the mint.
   In February 1471, Langstrother was a member of a high-ranking diplomatic mission that signed a ten-year truce and a commercial treaty with LOUIS XI. At the end of February, Warwick sent Langstrother to FRANCE to convey MARGARET OF ANJOU and her son Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER to England. Delayed by weather, the prior and his party did not land until 14 April, the day of Warwick’s death at the Battle of BARNET. An experienced soldier, Langstrother accompanied Queen Margaret on her campaign into the West Country, and, with John WENLOCK, Lord Wenlock, led the Lancastrian center, under the nominal command of the prince, at the Battle of TEWKESBURY on 4 May. After the battle, Langstrother; Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset; and other Lancastrian survivors took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey. Two days later, they were removed from SANCTUARY on Edward IV’s order and condemned to death for treason. Langstrother and his comrades were executed in the marketplace at Tewkesbury.
   Further Reading: P.W. Hammond, The Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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