Courtenay, Henry, Earl of Devon (Lancastrian)

(c. 1435–1469)
   Although rewarded by EDWARD IV for his neutrality during the fighting of 1460–1461, Henry Courtenay, younger brother of Thomas COURTENAY, sixth earl of Devon, was unable to restore Courtenay dominance in the West Country and remained under suspicion of harboring his family’s Lancastrian sympathies.
   Unlike his brothers, who fought for HENRY VI at the Battles of WAKEFIELD, ST. ALBANS, and TOWTON, Henry Courtenay took no sides in the civil war and escaped mention in the bill of ATTAINDER passed against prominent Lancastrians in the PARLIAMENT of November 1461. Because his elder brother the earl had been executed after the Battle of Towton and his younger brother Sir John COURTENAY had gone into exile with Henry VI, Henry Courtenay was left to make the family’s peace with the new Yorkist regime and salvage the family’s position in the West Country.
   Deprived by the attainder of the Courtenay lands and of his rightful title as seventh earl of Devon, Courtenay was nonetheless cultivated by Edward IV with a partial grant of his two brothers’ former properties. Although the king employed him on various minor commissions, Courtenay was not allowed to revive his family’s influence in the West Country, which passed instead to Humphrey STAFFORD, Lord Stafford,who was given many former Courtenay lands and offices. Perhaps as a result of Stafford’s rise, or, as was later rumored, as a result of Stafford’s ambition to be earl of Devon, Courtenay and Sir Thomas HUNGERFORD were arrested in November 1468 on a charge of plotting to depose Edward in favor of Henry VI. Convicted of treason in January 1469, both men were hanged, drawn, and quartered, an unusual mode of execution for persons of their rank.
   See also all entries under Courtenay
   Further Reading: Cherry, Martin,“The Struggle for Power in Mid-Fifteenth-Century Devonshire,” in Ralph A. Griffiths, ed., Patronage, the Crown and the Provinces in Later Medieval England (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1981), pp. 123–144; Ross, Charles, Edward IV (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1998); Storey,R. L., The End of the House of Lancaster, 2d ed. (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 1999).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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