Tunstall, Sir Richard

(d. 1492)
   Sir Richard Tunstall is an example of the many committed Lancastrians who submitted to EDWARD IV after the final defeat of the house of LANCASTER at the Battle of TEWKESBURY in 1471.
   Born into a Lancashire GENTRY family, Tunstall was knighted by HENRY VI in about 1452. A member of the royal household, Tunstall was a staunch Lancastrian, who fought for Henry VI at the Battle of WAKEFIELD in 1460 and the Battles of ST. ALBANS and TOWTON in 1461. After the latter defeat, Tunstall fled into SCOTLAND with the Lancastrian royal family. Attainted by the first Yorkist PARLIAMENT in 1461, Tunstall was soon deeply involved in the Lancastrian campaigns in Northumberland, being captured with the garrison at the fall of BAMBURGH CASTLE in July 1462 but escaping to serve with Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU’s garrisons in both DUNSTANBURGH and ALNWICK Castles. In 1463, Tunstall appeared in WALES as a member of the Lancastrian garrison holding HARLECH CASTLE. By early 1464, he was back in Northumberland, where he fought with Henry BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, at the Battles of HEDGELEY MOOR and HEXHAM. After the collapse of Lancastrian resistance in Northumberland, Tunstall escorted Henry VI into Lancashire, where the king was hidden by friendly gentlemen for over a year. Tunstall returned to Harlech, and he finally fell into Yorkist hands when the castle fell in August 1468. Conveyed to the TOWER OF LONDON with other Englishmen in the Harlech garrison, Tunstall was pardoned by Edward IV in December but reverted to his Lancastrian allegiance in the autumn of 1470, when Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, restored Henry VI to the throne (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). Tunstall joined the READEPTION government as Henry VI’s chamberlain, but he was once again attainted after the death of Warwick and the collapse of the regime in 1471 (see Edward IV, Restoration of). By 1473, Tunstall had submitted to Edward IV and achieved reversal of his ATTAINDER. He was thereafter highly favored by both Edward IV and RICHARD III, each of whom employed him as a diplomat. Although Richard rewarded him for his services to the house of YORK with membership in the Order of the Garter (a prestigious English order of chivalry), Tunstall may have turned against the king in 1485. According to the BALLAD OF BOSWORTH FIELD, Tunstall was one of four knights who joined the army of Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, when the earl invaded England in August to claim the Crown. Tunstall’s abandonment of Richard and his presence at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD are uncertain; in August 1485, he may have been in CALAIS, where he held a diplomatic post. In any event, Tunstall prospered in the reign of HENRY VII, receiving numerous rewards and being admitted to the royal COUNCIL. He died a loyal servant of the house of TUDOR in 1492.
   Further Reading: Boardman, Andrew W., The Medieval Soldier in the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1998).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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