Neville, John, Earl of Northumberland and Marquis of Montagu

(c. 1430–1471)
   John Neville, marquis of Montagu, the younger brother of Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, was a leading political and military figure in northern England during the WARS OF THE ROSES.
   The third son of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, John took a leading part in the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD during the 1450s. In 1454, he and his brother Sir Thomas NEVILLE led the Neville forces at the Battle of STAMFORD BRIDGE. He fought alongside his father at the Battle of BLORE HEATH, in September 1459, and so recklessly pursued the fleeing Lancastrians that he was captured. John was released in July 1460 when his brother Warwick won control of HENRY VI and the royal government at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON; the new regime shortly thereafter ennobled John as Lord Montagu. In February 1461, the Lancastrians recaptured Montagu at the Battle of ST. ALBANS, sending him into confinement at York. His life preserved the life of Edmund BEAUFORT, the future fourth duke of Somerset, who was Warwick’s prisoner. EDWARD IV released Montagu in late March 1461, when the king passed through York after his victory at the Battle of TOWTON.
   Montagu spent the early 1460s serving with his brother in the north against repeated Lancastrian incursions from SCOTLAND. He relieved Naworth Castle in July 1462 and assisted Warwick in repelling a Scottish invasion in July 1463. In 1464, Montagu was appointed warden of the East March (i.e., Scottish border) and served with his brother on a peace commission to Scotland. He defeated one Lancastrian force at the Battle of HEDGELEY MOOR in April and another at the Battle of HEXHAM in May, and then assisted at the final capture of the castles of ALNWICK, BAMBURGH, and DUNSTANBURGH, thus ending Lancastrian resistance in Northumberland. His reward for these services was the Percy earldom of Northumberland, a grant that made him the chief magnate in the north. Although less affected by the rise of the WOODVILLE FAMILY than was Warwick, Northumberland lost a chance to marry his son to the wealthy daughter of Henry HOLLAND, duke of Exeter, when the heiress wed Thomas GREY, Queen Elizabeth WOODVILLE’s son, in 1466. How deeply Northumberland was involved in Warwick’s coup attempt of 1469 is unclear, for he cooperated in the suppression of the Warwick-inspired ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION. He avoided involvement in his brother’s abortive uprising in the spring of 1470, but he also made no effort to assist Edward against Warwick. As a member of the NEVILLE FAMILY, Northumberland aroused the king’s suspicions, but as a powerful nobleman whom Edward liked personally, Northumberland still commanded the king’s favor. In March 1470, Edward restored the earldom of Northumberland to Henry PERCY, but he sought to maintain John Neville’s loyalty by creating him marquis of Montagu and in December 1469 promising his daughter, ELIZABETH OF YORK, as a wife for Montagu’s son. However, when Warwick landed from exile in FRANCE in September 1470, Montagu declared for Henry VI and moved with a large force to intercept Edward at Doncaster. Montagu’s defection forced the king to flee the country and left Warwick in charge of the Lancastrian READEPTION government (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). When Edward returned in March 1471, Montagu, who had been entrusted with the defense of the north, allowed the Yorkists to land unopposed in Yorkshire. Whatever the reason for this failure to act, it was likely not a betrayal of his brother, for Montagu hurried south to fight and die with Warwick at the Battle of BARNET in April.
   See also Edward IV, Restoration of; North of England and the Wars of the Roses; all other entries under Neville
   Further Reading: 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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