Neville, Richard, Earl of Warwick

(1428–1471)
   Known as “the kingmaker,” Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, was a central figure in the coming and continuation of the WARS OF THE ROSES.Warwick’s support for the house of YORK allowed Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, to claim the Crown in 1460 and permitted EDWARD IV,York’s son, to win the Crown in 1461. By switching sides in 1470, Warwick also made possible the restoration of HENRY VI and the house of LANCASTER. The eldest son of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, head of a powerful northern family, young Richard married Anne Beauchamp, daughter of the wealthy earl of Warwick, in 1436. In 1449, Anne inherited the bulk of her father’s vast estates, and Neville became earl of Warwick by right of his wife. In the early 1450s,Warwick, like his father, took no side in the feud between York and Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset. The NEVILLE FAMILY had connections with both dukes, York being married to Warwick’s aunt, Cecily NEVILLE, and Somerset being related by blood through Warwick’s paternal grandmother. In 1452, when York tried unsuccessfully at DARTFORD to compel the king to arrest Somerset, Warwick and Salisbury sought first to mediate the quarrel and then to limit the punishment inflicted on York. However, by 1453, Warwick’s quarrel with his brother-inlaw Somerset over division of the Beauchamp inheritance, and the rising influence at court of Salisbury’s northern rival, Henry PERCY, earl of Northumberland, drove Warwick and his father into closer alliance with York.When York became protector for the mentally incapacitated Henry VI in 1454 (see Henry VI, Illness of), Warwick was admitted to the COUNCIL and associated with his father in the lucrative wardenship of the West March (i.e., western border with SCOTLAND). When Henry’s recovery ended York’s FIRST PRONEVILLE, TECTORATE in early 1455, the return to favor of the Somerset-Northumberland faction absorbed the NEVILLE-PERCY FEUD into the national rivalry between York and Somerset, with Northumberland’s standing at court tying the Nevilles more firmly to York. In May 1455, the Nevilles and York, seeking to remove their opponents from power, resorted to arms; on 22 May, their forces slew Somerset and Northumberland at the Battle of ST. ALBANS, a fight that gave Warwick a not entirely deserved reputation as a successful military leader. The battle and a royal relapse gave York and his allies control of the government until February 1456, when Henry recovered and ended the duke’s SECOND PROTECTORATE.
   An increasing influence in government,Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU was anxious to prevent York’s ambition from jeopardizing the future of her son, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER; by late 1456, she had largely excluded York and the Nevilles from power. Named captain of CALAIS in 1455, Warwick spent much of the next four years fighting the French and Spanish in the Channel and winning a great reputation as a naval commander. The earl also transformed Calais into a base for Yorkist intrigues. With the outbreak of civil war in 1459, York summoned Warwick and part of the Calais garrison to England, but, after the Yorkist defeat at the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE in October, the earl returned to Calais with his father and York’s son, Edward, earl of March. After spending the next eight months gathering strength and raiding the English coast, the Yorkist earls entered LONDON in June 1460, and the following month Warwick defeated and captured the king at the Battle of NORTHAMPTON.
   With the government now in Warwick’s hands,York returned from exile in IRELAND and laid claim to the Crown. Whether or not Warwick initially supported this decision, he backed off when it became apparent that the PEERAGE opposed a change of dynasty. The earl was instrumental in crafting the compromise Act of ACCORD, which left Henry on the throne but disinherited Prince Edward in favor of York and his heirs. The Act of Accord galvanized Lancastrian opposition, and Warwick was left in charge in London when York and Salisbury were killed at the Battle of WAKEFIELD in December 1460. After losing control of the king at the Battle of ST. ALBANS in February 1461, Warwick accepted what he had rejected the previous autumn— the proclamation of a Yorkist monarch. As Edward IV, York’s son secured the Crown in March at the Battle of TOWTON, largely with the support of Warwick and the Neville AFFINITY.
   Having been vital to Edward’s success,Warwick sought, as the new king’s chief advisor, to recreate the wide-ranging influence in government that he had enjoyed while holding custody of Henry VI. But Edward, though young, was far more vigorous than his Lancastrian predecessor, and Warwick, though well rewarded, soon found his influence diluted and his interests threatened by other royal favorites, such as William HERBERT, earl of Pembroke. In 1464, the king’s secret marriage to Elizabeth WOODVILLE introduced the large and ambitious WOODVILLE FAMILY to COURT and further reduced Warwick’s influence. Differences over foreign policy,with Edward leaning toward BURGUNDY and Warwick favoring alliance with FRANCE, also strained relations between the earl and the king, as did Edward’s refusal to sanction the marriages of Warwick’s two daughters to his brothers. In 1469, Warwick, seeking to again place the king under his tutelage, formed an alliance with George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence, Edward’s disaffected brother. By instigating the ROBIN OF REDESDALE REBELLION in northern England, and by defeating royal forces at the Battle of EDGECOTE, Warwick won brief custody of the king.However, finding himself unable to govern without Edward’s cooperation,Warwick soon released the king. Too strong for Edward to strike down, Warwick launched another coup in early 1470.
   With the failure of the 1470 uprising at the Battle of LOSECOTE FIELD, Warwick and Clarence fled to France. Having failed to find 182 NEVILLE, RICHARD, EARL OF WARWICK a suitable Yorkist monarch through whom to govern, Warwick, with the cooperation of LOUIS XI, negotiated the ANGERS AGREEMENT with his old enemy, Queen Margaret. In return for restoring Henry VI, Warwick won Margaret’s acceptance of the marriage of her son to Anne NEVILLE, the earl’s younger daughter. In return for Louis’s financial assistance, Warwick agreed to bring England into active alliance with France against Burgundy. Returning to England in September 1470, Warwick forced Edward to flee to the continent. Supported by the earl’s brothers—John NEVILLE, marquis of Montagu, and George NEVILLE, archbishop of York—by the extensive Neville affinity, and (somewhat lukewarmly) by the Lancastrians, the Warwick-led READEPTION government of Henry VI lasted until April 1471, when Edward IV defeated and killed Warwick at the Battle of BARNET. To secure the north, Edward allowed his brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester (see Richard III, King of England), to marry Warwick’s daughter Anne in about 1472. This union transferred most of Warwick’s northern estates and influence to the house of York.
   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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