Courtenay, John, Earl of Devon (Lancastrian)

(c. 1440–1471)
   A staunch partisan of the house of LANCASTER, John Courtenay was instrumental in convincing Queen MARGARET OF ANJOU to continue the war against EDWARD IV in 1471.
   In October 1460, Courtenay joined his elder brother Thomas COURTENAY, sixth earl of Devon, when the earl took the field against the Yorkist regime established by the Act of ACCORD. He fought at the Battle of WAKEFIELD in December 1460, where he was later accused by the widow of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, of participating after the battle in the unlawful execution of her husband. In March 1461, when Devon was executed after the Battle of TOWTON, Courtenay fled into SCOTLAND with HENRY VI. In 1463, he joined Queen Margaret in exile in FRANCE.
   Recognized by the Lancastrians as the eighth earl of Devon after Edward IV’s execution of his brother Henry COURTENAY in 1469, John Courtenay was among the first wave of Lancastrian exiles to return to England with Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, in the autumn of 1470 (see Edward IV, Overthrow of). He regained possession of the Courtenay lands in the West Country when the PARLIAMENT called by COURTENAY, JOHN, EARL OF DEVON 67 the READEPTION government reversed the ATTAINDER of the sixth earl. In March 1471, Devon traveled north with Warwick to oppose the landing of Edward IV, but soon returned to LONDON to await the arrival of the queen and thus was not present when Warwick met defeat and death at the Battle of BARNET on 14 April 1471 (see Edward IV, Restoration of). When Queen Margaret and her son EDWARD OF LANCASTER, Prince of Wales, landed late on the day of Barnet, Devon encouraged them to continue the fight and persuaded them to withdraw into the West Country, where Devon used his family’s influence to raise substantial forces for the Lancastrian army. The queen’s decision to follow the earl’s advice led on 4 May to the Battle of TEWKESBURY, where Devon was slain.
   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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