Neville, George

, Archbishop of York
(1432–1476)
   A younger brother of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, George Neville, archbishop of York, supported his brother’s various attempts to overthrow EDWARD IV.
   The fourth son of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, George was early marked out for a clerical career. Because he was a member of the powerful NEVILLE FAMILY and a nephew of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, Neville received his first ecclesiastical office in 1446, when he was only about thirteen. He acquired a succession of Church offices in 1454, when his father served as chancellor during York’s FIRST PROTECTORATE. In 1455, with the Yorkists again briefly in power during the duke’s SECOND PROTECTORATE, Neville received the bishopric of Exeter in fulfillment of a promise that Salisbury had extracted from the Yorkist leaders.
   When his father and brother fled the realm in 1459 after the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE,Neville submitted to HENRY VI, but he reverted to his Yorkist allegiance in June 1460, when he led an armed force to LONDON to support the return of Salisbury and Warwick from CALAIS. He accompanied Warwick to the Battle of NORTHAMPTON on 10 July, and on 25 July, Henry VI, now in Warwick’s custody, appointed Neville chancellor of England. On 4 March 1461, the day of Edward IV’s elevation to the throne,Neville preached a public sermon in London at Paul’s Cross (i.e., the pulpit in St. Paul’s churchyard) defending Edward’s right to the Crown. On 10 March, Edward confirmed Neville’s appointment as 174 NEVILLE, GEORGE, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK chancellor. During the 1460s, the bishop served on various diplomatic missions and participated in some of Warwick’s campaigns against Lancastrian incursions from SCOTLAND. In 1465, Neville followed his installation as archbishop of York with an extravagant feast that was in part a celebration of his family’s political preeminence. However, in the late 1460s, the rise of the WOODVILLE FAMILY and of other royal favorites created a rift between the king and Warwick, and the archbishop was stripped of the chancellorship in 1467. In July 1469, Neville presided in Calais at the unauthorized marriage of Warwick’s daughter, Isabel NEVILLE, to George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, the king’s brother. The ceremony initiated a coup attempt by Warwick and Clarence, who issued a manifesto, signed by the archbishop, condemning Edward’s government. After his brother’s victory at the Battle of EDGECOTE in July, the archbishop took Edward IV into custody and brought him to Warwick at Middleham Castle. Compelled by lack of support to release the king,Warwick fled to FRANCE in the spring of 1470 after staging another unsuccessful rebellion. Suspicious of the archbishop, Edward forced him to take a solemn oath of loyalty.
   In October 1470,Warwick overthrew Edward and restored the house of LANCASTER (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). The archbishop became chancellor in the READEPTION government, but on 11 April 1471, after parading Henry VI through the streets of London in a vain attempt to arouse support, Neville surrendered himself and Henry to Edward. After a brief imprisonment in the TOWER OF LONDON,Neville was pardoned and released. However, in April 1472, he was re-arrested and transported to Calais, where he remained in confinement until 1475. His health broken by his long imprisonment, Archbishop Neville died in June 1476.
   See also Edward IV, Restoration of; English Church and the Wars of the Roses; all other entries under Neville
   Further Reading: “George Neville,” in Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England (London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1991), pp. 315–316; Hicks, Michael,Warwick the Kingmaker (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998);Kendall, Paul Murray,Warwick the Kingmaker (New York:W.W. Norton, 1987).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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