Vere, John de, Earl of Oxford

   A staunch partisan of the house of LANCASTER, John de Vere, thirteenth earl of Oxford, helped overthrow the house of YORK in both 1470 and 1485.
   The second son of the twelfth earl, Oxford succeeded to the family title in 1462, when EDWARD IV executed his father and elder brother for allegedly plotting a Lancastrian invasion (see Oxford Conspiracy). In 1468, Oxford also fell under suspicion of Lancastrian dealings and spent some months in the TOWER OF LONDON. In the spring of 1470, he fled England for the continent with his brother-in-law, Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who was then in rebellion against Edward IV.When Warwick restored HENRY VI in the following autumn, Oxford became constable of England and used his position to pronounce sentence of death on John TIPTOFT, earl of Worcester, the Yorkist constable who had condemned his father and brother (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). Oxford commanded the Lancastrian van at the Battle of BARNET in April 1471 and fled to FRANCE after Edward IV’s restoration (see Edward IV, Restoration of). In September 1473, the earl landed in Cornwall and seized St. Michael’s Mount, which he held for two months until forced by siege to surrender. PARLIAMENT attainted Oxford in 1475, and Edward IV imprisoned him at the CALAIS fortress of Hammes, from which he escaped with the help of the governor, Sir James Blount, in 1484. Upon gaining his freedom, the earl, like Blount, joined Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, in France. Oxford returned to Hammes later in the year and obtained leave for the fortress’s pro-Richmond garrison to depart unmolested. Landing in England with Richmond in 1485, Oxford served as captaingeneral of the earl’s army and commanded its right wing at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD on 22 August. The success of Oxford’s initial assault upon the royal army likely convinced RICHARD III to launch his charge against Richmond’s position, which in turn caused Sir William STANLEY to abandon his neutrality and intervene decisively on Richmond’s behalf.
   Now king as HENRY VII, Richmond rewarded Oxford with numerous offices, including chamberlain of England, constable of the Tower, and lord admiral. The earl commanded the van of the royal army against Yorkist rebels at the Battle of STOKE in 1487 and helped crush the Cornish uprising of 1497 (see Simnel, Lambert). In 1499, as steward of England, he condemned to death Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick, the last direct male heir of the house of York. Oxford outlived Henry VII by four years, dying in March 1513.
   Further Reading: “John Vere,” in Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England (London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1991), pp. 335–337; Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998); Ross, Charles, Richard III (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Seward, Desmond, The Wars of the Roses (New York:Viking, 1995).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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