Yorkist Heirs

(after 1485)
   When HENRY VII overthrew RICHARD III and the house of YORK at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in 1485, many descendants of Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, remained alive to challenge the house of TUDOR and its possession of the throne. With continuance of their dynasty threatened by their own failure to produce healthy male heirs, Henry VII and his sole surviving son and successor Henry VIII executed many persons of Yorkist blood to eliminate any possibility of a Yorkist restoration. The most dangerous plots during Henry VII’s reign centered on impostors, such as Lambert SIMNEL and Perkin WARBECK, who claimed to be, but in fact were not, members of the house of York. The uncertainty over the fate of EDWARD V and his brother Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, the sons of EDWARD IV who disappeared in the TOWER OF LONDON in 1483, made such impostures particularly effective. After 1485, York’s last direct descendent in the male line was the duke’s grandson, Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick, the son of George PLANTAGENET, duke of Clarence. One of Henry VII’s first acts as king was to secure the person of Warwick and confine him in the Tower, where he remained until his execution for treason in 1499. With Warwick imprisoned, the leading Yorkist heirs were the sons of Edward IV’s sister, Elizabeth, and her husband, John de la POLE, duke of Suffolk. The eldest, John de la POLE, earl of Lincoln, involved himself in the Simnel conspiracy and died at the Battle of STOKE in 1487. In 1499, Lincoln’s younger brother, Edmund de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, fled to CALAIS, where he remained for a time with Sir James TYRELL, the governor of one of the Calais fortresses. Suffolk returned to England shortly thereafter and was taken back into favor until 1501, when he and his brother Richard fled to the court of Maximilian I and tried to convince the emperor to fund an attempt on the English throne. Henry arrested a third de la Pole brother,William, and imprisoned him in the Tower, where he stayed until his death in 1539. In 1502, the king also took advantage of Suffolk’s connection with Tyrell to make the rise of any future Yorkist impostors more difficult. Tyrell was an ideal instrument for this purpose; a former servant of Richard III now awaiting execution for his involvement with Suffolk, Tyrell confessed to having murdered the sons of Edward IV in 1483 on Richard’s orders.With his own eldest son, Prince Arthur, having recently died, Henry VII wanted it made clear that the PRINCES IN THE TOWER were dead. Although the confession could be genuine, the circumstances and timing of Tyrell’s revelation cast doubt on the truth of its claims. Suffolk, meanwhile,was unable to interest a continental monarch in his enterprise and remained safely in the Netherlands until 1506, when Duke Philip of BURGUNDY concluded a treaty with Henry VII that required the duke to cease supporting Henry’s enemies. Suffolk was duly surrendered to the English at Calais and remained in the Tower until 1513 when his brother was recognized as “Richard IV” by Louis XII of FRANCE, an act that prompted Henry VIII to execute Suffolk. Richard de la Pole later served as a soldier in Hungary and in France, and died in 1525 fighting for Francis I at the Battle of Pavia. In the late 1530s, after the birth of his long awaited male heir, Henry VIII resumed the destruction of the house of York with a series of judicial murders. In 1538, he executed Henry Courtenay, marquis of Exeter, the son of Edward IV’s daughter Katherine, and, in 1541, he eliminated Warwick’s sixty-eightyearold sister, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. The Countess’s eldest son, Henry Pole, Lord Montague, had also gone to the block in 1538. By his death in 1547, Henry VIII, himself a grandson of Edward IV, had almost fulfilled his openly avowed intention of extinguishing his Yorkist relatives.
   Further Reading: Arthurson, Ian, The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy, 1491-1499 (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1997); Bennett, Michael J., Lambert Simnel and the Battle of Stoke (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987); Chrimes, S. B., Henry VII (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1999); Chrimes, S. B., Lancastrians,Yorkists and Henry VII, 2d ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1966).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • York, House of — (1461–1470, 1471–1485)    A branch of the royal family of Plantagenet, which had ruled England since 1154, the house of York and its partisans comprised one of the parties contending for the throne during the WARS OF THE ROSES.    The family of… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Henry VII, King of England — (1457–1509)    First king of the house of TUDOR, Henry VII, the surviving heir of the house of LANCASTER, won the Crown from RICHARD III and the house of YORK at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD in August 1485. The son of Edmund TUDOR, earl of… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Stoke, Battle of — (1487)    Considered the last major battle of the WARS OFTHE ROSES, the Battle of Stoke, fought on 16 June 1487, ended the first significant attempt to overthrow HENRY VII and restore the house of YORK.    The failure of the 1486 LOVELL STAFFORD… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Fitzgerald, Gerald, Earl of Kildare — (1456–1513)    The dominant political figure in IRELAND during the last phase of the Wars of the Roses, Gerald Fitzgerald, eighth earl of Kildare, continued his family’s Yorkist allegiance and maintained Ireland as a haven for Yorkist political… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Lovell-Stafford Uprising — (1486)    The Lovell Stafford uprising of 1486 was the first significant Yorkist rebellion against the new regime of HENRY VII and the house of TUDOR.    In April 1486, eight months after the defeat and death of RICHARD III at the Battle of… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Burgundy —    Burgundy was the wealthiest and most powerful state in fifteenth century Europe. During the WARS OF THE ROSES, the principality was the chief rival of FRANCE, and thus always a possible ally for whichever English faction lacked French support …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Simnel, Lambert — (c. 1475–c. 1525)    Lambert Simnel, a boy of obscure origins, impersonated Edward PLANTAGENET, earl of Warwick, as part of the first major effort to overthrow HENRY VII and restore the house of YORK.    Little is known of Simnel, whose very name …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Warbeck, Perkin — (1475–1499)    By impersonating a son of EDWARD IV, Perkin Warbeck became the center of a Yorkist conspiracy to overthrow HENRY VII and the house of TUDOR.    Born in the Netherlands, Warbeck took service with a Breton cloth merchant, who used… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • De Facto Act — (1495)    Passed by PARLIAMENT in October 1495, the De Facto Act sought to heal the lingering divisions of the WARS OF THE ROSES by encouraging former adherents of RICHARD III and the house of YORK to support HENRY VII against any current and… …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

  • Lovell, Francis, Viscount Lovell — (c. 1456–c. 1487)    A friend and loyal adherent of RICHARD III, Francis Lovell,Viscount Lovell,was a committed opponent of HENRY VII and a leader of Yorkist efforts to continue the dynastic struggle after 1485.    The son of a Yorkshire nobleman …   Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses

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