Was Edward of Warwick a Threat to Henry Tudor?

By Samantha Wilcoxson

The young son of George of Clarence is not often mentioned, but, when he is, it is often as a pitiful aside in the drama of Perkin Warbeck. Opinions on Edward vary, some believing he was mentally disabled and others taking the same evidence to indicate that he was simply as uneducated and unsophisticated as anyone would be who had spent their formative years within the walls of the Tower of London. He was executed because he was seen as a threat to the Tudor throne, but was he?

Edward was executed in 1499 because he had allegedly conspired with Perkin Warbeck to escape the Tower. It is not farfetched to believe that Henry VII set the pair up by providing them with guards who were amiable to their goals and gave them false hope. Whether they really did plot or Henry wanted everyone to believe they did, both were put to death in order to clear the way for the marriage of Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Katherine’s parents, clearly saw Edward as a threat based upon their insistence on his removal. Henry was undoubtedly reluctant to execute his wife’s cousin when she had already lost so many to the Wars of the Roses, but, in the end, he decided that the favorable match was worth the loss of one more Plantagenet son. Maybe Edward did present a greater threat than we often give him credit for.

Edward is often referred to as the son of George of Clarence, but let us not forget that his maternal ancestry is no less impressive. Isabel Neville was the daughter of the infamous Kingmaker, and the house of Neville had been powerful enough to sway the Wars of the Roses in whichever direction they chose to place themselves upon. Should Edward have determined to make a claim for himself, he had deep roots of family ties to call upon that Tudor would have been challenged to compete with.

It is for this reason that Edward was initially imprisoned, despite the fact that he was a child. Henry understood that if he allowed this young man to grow and thrive, making the most of these family connections, he would almost certainly become a threat. Henry had learned many lessons from watching the houses of Lancaster and York decimate each other. One of those lessons was to not allow a seemingly innocent threat to become stronger.

York had held Henry VI of Lancaster prisoner for years before they finally put him to death and spread the story that he had died of melancholy. Richard Neville of Warwick, Edward’s grandfather, had not been able to take that step with Edward of York, and the deposed king returned from exile to have his vengeance. Henry Tudor was not going to leave room for the possibility that Edward of Warwick would become one of these stories.

Others saw a child imprisoned in the Tower, but Henry saw the last hope of York neutralized. When rumors had spread in October 1485 that Henry had been a victim of the plague, men began to proclaim Edward king. During uprisings in the spring of 1486, men were heard calling out, ‘A Warwick, A Warwick!’ Tudor had not become king when so many other men had died by ignoring clues such as these. Few would hesitate to make Edward king if Henry died early in his reign without an heir.

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However, Edward was not executed at that time. Henry was content to keep him under lock and key where the boy could not become a rallying point. The king would soon discover that Edward’s physical presence was not required for his name to be utilized in the gathering of troops.

By the end of 1486, whispers of another uprising were heard, and Henry moved against the Warwick holdings. Warwick’s lands were restored to Edward’s grandmother, Anne Beauchamp, leaving Edward heir only to the Montague estates that would later be removed from him under the 1499 attainder.

When a boy who claimed to be Edward of Warwick was used to rally troops to Stoke in 1487, doubters were forced to concede that Henry’s suspicions had been well-placed. Yorkist John de la Pole certainly knew that Lambert Simnel was not the young earl, but he used him as a figurehead nonetheless. Whether de la Pole planned to stake his own claim to the crown or support the real Warwick is unknown since he died in that fateful battle.

Though he had not been involved in any way, Edward remained imprisoned. The power of his name was too much to allow him freedom. Did the boy, who would have been twelve when the Battle of Stoke occurred, have any idea what was happening in his name or any desire to press his claim to the throne?

Probably not, and Henry likely did not really think so either.

Warwick was purposefully kept not only imprisoned but undereducated. Henry had so successfully kept Edward separate from events of his early reign that he could consider reestablishing him in 1488, after what Henry would have likely seen as the last York rebellion had been safely and unequivocally put down. He did take the step of confirming Edward as Earl of Warwick in 1490, but did not go any further toward restoring the boy. Henry’s queen, Elizabeth, would never speak against her husband in public but it makes sense that she would have privately lobbied for Edward’s release.

Unfortunately for Edward, negotiations for the marriage of Henry’s heir also began about this time, and it quickly became clear that his freedom was not worth the trouble it would cause. Even if Edward had no treasonous ideas of his own – and we have no idea if he did – there would always be those to fight in his name and attempt to draw him into conspiracy and foreign powers who would doubt the strength of the Tudor claim with a York prince at large.

By the 1490s, another threat put the proverbial nail in Edward’s coffin. Initial news trickled in that another was claiming to be Edward of Warwick. The fact that Perkin Warbeck made his claim to the throne in the name of Richard, Duke of York, the younger of the Princes in the Tower, would not save Edward from the repercussions of his name being tied to treason once again. This pretender was able to gain support from many European leaders, some believing his claim to be Richard and others simply wishing to provide a thorn for Henry’s side, proving to Henry that he would never be able to set Edward free.

The fight to control or capture Warbeck continued for the remainder of Warwick’s life until the two were both residents of the Tower. Did Edward truly conspire with Warbeck to escape? Was he an innocent, blindly led to his own execution? We may never know, but we do know that in name, if not in deed, Edward of Warwick was a threat to Henry Tudor. With his death, the legitimate male line of the Plantagenets was extinguished.

Additional Reading:

Margaret Pole: Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 by Hazel Pierce

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn

Elizabeth of York: A Queen and her World by Alison Weir

Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors by Desmond Seward

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Samantha Wilcoxson is the author of the Plantagenet Embers series, which begins with Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York. The second novel features the sister of Edward of Warwick in Faithful Traitor: The Story of Margaret Pole. The trilogy will be complete with the release of Queen of Martyrs: The Story of Mary I in 2017.

You can connect with Samantha on her blog, Twitter, Goodreads, or Booklikes.

http://SamanthaWilcoxson.blogspot.co.uk

http://www.twitter.com/carpe_librum

http://www.goodreads.com/samanthajw

http://carpelibrum.booklikes.com

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The York Remnant Under Henry Tudor

By Samantha Wilcoxson

For those of us looking centuries back through history, it is easy to end the dynasty of the Plantagenets and begin that of the Tudors with a clean line drawn through 1485. The truth for those who survived the Wars of the Roses was much more complicated. Henry Tudor made clear with his decree that his reign began on the day before the Battle of Bosworth that he was not going to tolerate Yorkists who wished to continue the fight.

Those Yorkists were allowed to become faithful followers of the first Tudor king, however, and many took him up on that offer. Elizabeth of York may be the best example of this, choosing to marry and support Henry rather than press a claim of her own or that of a male relative. Many, most notably the children of Edward IV and their families, made similar decisions.

Not all of these converts stayed true to their Tudor king. John de la Pole was the first of his brothers to stand up to Henry. The son of Edward IV’s sister, Elizabeth, and once named Richard III’s heir, the eldest de la Pole son initially bowed to Henry Tudor and served him for two years before challenging him in the Battle of Stoke. Since de la Pole was killed in the fighting, it is impossible to know what his plans were had he been victorious. It is unlikely that he would have placed the crown on the head of Lambert Simnel, who had been held up as Edward of Warwick to rally the troops. Would he have taken it for himself or given it to the true son of George of Clarence, who was securely held in the Tower of London?

Edward of Warwick is one of the most tragic stories of the York remnant under Henry Tudor. Only ten years old when Henry took power, he had already been branded the son of a traitor when Edward IV had George of Clarence executed for treason seven years earlier. As his cousins, who became known as the Princes in the Tower, discovered, being a young boy close to the throne was not necessarily an advantage. Edward spent Henry’s reign imprisoned for nothing besides his excess of royal blood before being executed in 1499 to clear the way for Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor’s wedding.

The story of Edward’s sister is somewhat more encouraging. Margaret was married to Richard Pole early in Henry’s reign. His treatment of her seems to indicate mixed feelings. As the daughter of the one-time heir apparent of England, marriage to an ordinary knight was rather beneath Margaret. However, her father had also tainted the family with the scent of treason, and her family had been replaced upon England’s throne. Richard and Margaret were appointed to serve Arthur at Ludlow, demonstrating some amount of trust in the girl who had likely grown up expecting a different future. After the death of Prince Arthur and Queen Elizabeth, Margaret seems to have largely stayed out of Henry’s way as she grew her own family. It is after the rise of Henry VIII that Margaret’s story gets interesting.

Henry also had his wife’s many sisters to deal with. Cecily, the second oldest York princess, had her marriage to Ralph Scrope annulled so that she could be paired with Henry’s choice for her: loyal Lancastrian John Welles. Cecily was often at court to serve her sister and seems to have built a relationship with everyone’s favorite mother-in-law to villainize, Margaret Beaufort. Upon the death of Viscount Welles and the two children they had together, Cecily made a scandalous secret marriage in keeping with Woodville tradition. Henry was unforgiving, reducing her income by taking her lands. Cecily and her descendants fell into obscurity, living partially on support from Queen Elizabeth.

Little is known of sisters Anne and Bridget, neither of which left surviving children. Bridget was pledged early as a nun, while Anne was wed to Thomas Howard. These two quietly lived out their lives within the new regime.

The final York princess has a well-known history. Catherine married William Courtenay, and neither they nor their children seemed able to stay on the good side of the Tudors. William was imprisoned throughout much of Henry’s reign, only to die shortly after his merciful release by Henry VIII. Their son, Henry, would be wrapped up in the Exeter Conspiracy with their Pole cousins in 1538. The longest  surviving of Edward IV’s children, Catherine lived until 1527 but did not remarry.

The members of the fallen York dynasty could rise or be brought low during the reign of Henry Tudor. Their fate was largely dependent upon their willingness to bow to their new king or decision to press their own claim.

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Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer and history enthusiast. Her 2015 novel, Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, features Elizabeth of York and was selected as an Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society. This novel is followed by the June release of Faithful Traitor, which carries on the story of the Plantagenet remnant in Tudor times with Margaret Pole. The Tudor England trilogy will be completed with the story of Queen Mary. Samantha has also published two middle grade novels, Over the Deep: A Titanic Adventure and No Such Thing as Perfect. Each of these are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.

Samantha lives on a small lake in Michigan with her husband, three children, two dogs, and two cats. This crew provides plenty of good times and writing inspiration. When she is not reading or writing, Samantha enjoys traveling and learning about new places.

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Blog: http://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carpe_librum

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: (US) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013J4PX28

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plantagenet-Princess-Tudor-Queen-Elizabeth-ebook/dp/B013J4PX28

Faithful Traitor: (US) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D04CTX8

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Faithful-Traitor-Story-Margaret-Pole-ebook/dp/B01D04CTX8

Unmasking the Villain

By Samantha Wilcoxson

It has become standard practice for history enthusiasts to be an unquestioning supporter of either Henry VII or Richard III, naming the other as the worst villain of their age. Is this a fair assessment? The fact that we cannot agree on which man is the evil one should be enough to make one wonder if they weren’t both something between demon and angel.

Historical fiction has been particularly unkind to Henry Tudor. He is expected by readers to be cold, calculating, and a little too much of a mama’s boy. One bestselling author even paints him as a rapist, while others simply have him treat his wife, Elizabeth of York, with contempt and disdain. Primary records demonstrate that this picture of Henry is almost completely false.

In Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England, Thomas Penn establishes that Henry was an intelligent ruler who unified England after decades of bloodshed in the Wars of the Roses. He was also devout, as is evinced by the fact that his few money-spending occasions were those that took place within the church and before God: coronations, weddings, and funerals. Known as a penny-pincher, Henry was willing to outlay cash when he felt it was worth it, but he also worked to correct the state of the royal coffers that he had taken over.

Even before his surprising success, Henry Tudor had looked to unite the kingdom he hoped to rule. On Christmas 1483, he pledged to marry the oldest daughter of the late king, Edward IV. Elizabeth was undoubtedly a prize, but one can see the thought for the future in Henry making this vow. It is also worth noting that the Plantagenet princess married him and supported Henry in his goals for improving and unifying England.

Henry was described by contemporaries as ‘spare’ with ‘high cheek bones’ and ‘dark hair faintly greying around the temples.’ Although they called him ‘grave,’ those presented to the first Tudor king also referred to him as ‘gracious’ and a ‘wonderful presence.’ This does not sound like the awful person we have been trained to believe Henry Tudor was.

However, Henry was also not the savior of England. In a cruel move as soon as his predecessor was dead, Henry had his reign dated beginning August 21, 1485. This was the day before his troops had killed Richard III in battle. Every man who had fought for their anointed king could then be named a traitor.

Henry’s reputation is also soiled by his execution of Edward of Warwick to appease Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain during negotiations for the marriage between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon. Edward, nephew of Edward IV and Richard III, was almost certainly innocent of any charges against him and had spent the entirety of Henry’s reign within Tower walls based on no charges whatsoever.

What we can say of Henry is that he left England a better place than he had found it. Financial security, internal peace, and a plan for the succession are more than Edward IV and Richard III had managed. Despite his faults, Henry VII had a positive impact on the land he had taken by conquest.

This brings us to Richard III. Unlike Henry Tudor, Richard brings different visions to the minds of those who study his history. On one side is the Shakespearean character, almost ridiculous in his abundance of evil that leaves him twisted in spirit and physical form. Opposing this, we have the Richard of more recent authors’ creation that make him a romantic leading man, caught up in circumstances that were beyond him and underestimating the ambitions of others. What is difficult with Richard III is taking middle ground, where the truth likely lies.

We will probably never know the complete truth about when Richard decided to take his nephew’s throne or whether or not he had his brother’s children murdered. Unsolved mysteries do not constitute evidence, so let us consider what we do know. Documentation of Richard’s life and character takes a unique form. Centuries after the last change in dynasty, contemporary historians had to determine what was truth and what should be written to please the new Tudor king. Contemporary accounts vary almost as much as modern opinions.

Before Richard’s death, historian John Rous described him as, ‘a mighty prince’ known for ‘commendably punishing offenders of the laws’ and ‘cherishing those that were virtuous.’ Once Henry Tudor was in power, Rous painted a different picture of Richard, more suited to Tudor taste. Polydore Virgil, who believed that Richard had killed his nephews, nonetheless admitted, ‘he had a sharp wit’ and ‘his courage also high and fierce.’

Richard III attempted to rule in a more prudent way than his brother had. Edward IV was charismatic and an unbeatable soldier. He had also been impetuous and short-sighted, leading to division over his choice of wife and handling of foreign relations. Richard was an upright, serious presence next to his boisterous brother. Dependable enough to carry out a wide variety of duties as Duke of Gloucester, Constable of England, and an impressive list of other titles given to him by his brother, Richard proved himself reliable and loyal throughout Edward IV’s reign, but scandal and rebellion make it difficult to discern whether he could have ruled the kingdom as well as he had managed other responsibilities.

With a reign of just over two years, Richard gives us less evidence to judge him by than Henry Tudor does. He was pious and devout as his brother had been pleasure-seeking, supporting several religious houses, churches, and King’s College at Cambridge. For a man accused of many illegal acts, Richard’s actions show that he was ‘much concerned that justice should be done,’ according to biographer Charles Ross. Born and raised in a time of war, Richard was particularly driven to ensure peace and justice were available to all Englishmen, rich and poor. He had served as Constable of England under Edward IV and earned a reputation for fairness only challenged after Edward’s death.

Like Henry, Richard has marks against him. The executions of Anthony Woodville, Richard Grey, and William Hastings are often the first points brought up (after accusing Richard of ridding himself of his nephews). Was Richard acting legally as Constable of England and Protector of the Realm when he ordered these executions? Certainly. Was he acting prudently? The fact that we continue to discuss it today indicates that he was not. Even if one believes these acts were judicial murder, they are no different than Tudor’s actions against Edward of Warwick. In fact, I challenge any student of history to name a medieval monarch who did not execute at least one person on charges that would never stand up to modern standards. Each Plantagenet and Tudor ruler is certainly guilty of this. While this does not make Richard innocent, it fails to make him stand out as a villain.

Richard had managed an area of England that had been plagued by border wars for years. The ongoing battles with Scotland would continue even after Henry VII negotiated a treaty that made his own daughter the wife of Scotland’s King James IV. During this time, Richard was not accused of wrongdoing but was beloved in the north and especially in York. One wonders if it is true, as some biographers have suggested, that the responsibilities of kingship were simply too much for him and he was not given time to find his way. This characterization indicates that Richard was inept but not evil.

Dare I suggest that neither Henry VII nor Richard III was the devil incarnate, attempting to make England his domain on Earth? Both men made mistakes and purposely took actions that would be unacceptable for a 21st century ruler. They both attracted supporters and made positive changes in the lives of those under their authority. If we remove the lens of romanticism and the need to have a ‘bad guy’ to blame for occurrences in history, I believe we will find two men who believed they were doing what was right, boosted by personal ambition for gain and glory much like any other nobleman of their era.

Rather than joining Team Richard or Team Henry, we can gain much by learning about both of these dynamic kings and appreciating their history for what it is. This change of power ended a three century long dynasty and began one of the most well-known dynasties in English history. The fact that we are still talking about it 500 years later is proof in itself that there is more going on here than good versus evil.

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Samantha Wilcoxson is a writer with a passion for history. Her most recent novel, Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York, is a Kindle best seller in the US and UK. For more information, visit her blog at SamanthaWilcoxson.blogspot.com.

Additional Reading:

The Wars of the Roses: The Key Players in the Struggle for Supremacy by Matthew Lewis

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn

Richard III by Charles Ross

The Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors by Desmond Seward

The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors by Dan Jones

The Romance of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York

By Samantha Wilcoxson

Romantic is not a word that is typically applied to Henry Tudor, but there is evidence that he and his Plantagenet bride, Elizabeth of York, had a happy marriage. If you have only envisioned a Henry VII who is miserly, withdrawn, and admittedly determined, I challenge you to open your mind and picture him in private with his beautiful wife.

Elizabeth of York was the oldest child of Edward IV and his scandalous bride, Elizabeth Woodville. Though people do not agree on the extent to which Elizabeth Woodville influenced Edward’s rule, few would say that their marriage wasn’t passionate. Growing up in a large family, Elizabeth of York would have always known that she was loved, even as rebellions against her father sent them into sanctuary.

Henry, on the other hand, had spent much of this time in exile. His few drops of royal blood were enough to make him a Lancastrian focal point, and Edward would not allow him to step foot in England, despite Henry’s mother’s pleading. Without any family besides his uncle Jasper to support him, Henry grew up in an ill-defined, precarious position.

Though their lives before 1485 could not have been more different, Henry and Elizabeth would be tossed together after Henry’s surprising victory at Bosworth made him King Henry VII. A betrothal had been arranged previously, but one must wonder how much hope Elizabeth had placed in Henry ever being capable of claiming his bride.

He did. On January 18, 1486, the couple was married in a stunning ceremony that was carefully designed to draw together any remnant of Lancaster or York rebels. The peace that the couple hoped to instill in England was undoubtedly one of the things that drew them together.

Evidence of their happiness appeared a short 8 months after their marriage when their greatest hope for the future was born. Prince Arthur was likely born prematurely, possibly even conceived on Henry and Elizabeth’s wedding night. The royal couple praised God and asked his blessings on their future as they welcomed this sure signal from God that their union had His favor.

Their faith is another element of Henry and Elizabeth’s relationship that would have drawn them close together. When Henry landed at Mill Bay to begin his conquest of England, he is recorded to have dropped to his knees and quoted Psalm 43, pleading “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause.” Upon meeting and quickly marrying Henry, Elizabeth would have done so because she saw it as God’s plan for her life and the best hope for her dwindling family.

Henry is one of the few English monarchs noted for their apparent faithfulness. Though some rumors swirl around about Catherine Gordon, the wife of Perkin Warbeck, Henry did not marry her when he had the chance after Elizabeth died. In fact, he never married again, though two of his three sons had predeceased Elizabeth. In the turbulent early sixteenth century, that is a strong sign of devotion and love.

When Henry and Elizabeth had experienced deaths of their children, Elizabeth and Edmund in infancy and Arthur heartbreakingly later, they are known to have found comfort in each other and their faith in God. Arthur’s death is particularly documented. Fifteen years old, heir to the throne, and recently married, his parents had legendary hopes for the future good King Arthur. If his birth had been a sign that their marriage was blessed, what did his untimely death portend?

While Henry and Elizabeth surely experienced the ups and downs of any marriage, the historical evidence suggests that a true love grew between them. When Elizabeth died in childbirth on her 37th birthday in 1503, Henry was crushed and ordered a lavish funeral. It is one of the few public displays that demonstrated the romantic side of Henry VII.

I greatly enjoyed delving into the personalities and relationship of this intriguing couple as I performed research for my book, Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York. Elizabeth may have been a quiet and devoted presence, but she skillfully bridged the gap between the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties, a feat that Henry may not have been capable of successfully handling on his own. With devotion to her husband, her family, and her faith as a driving force, Elizabeth set aside any future she may have been expecting and took on her role as the first Tudor queen and mother of a new dynasty.

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Samantha Wilcoxson is an American writer and history enthusiast. Besides three novels, Samantha has written on a variety of topics as freelance work for global websites. Living with her husband on a small lake in Michigan with three kids, two cats, and two dogs, Samantha has plenty of writing inspiration.Her book ‘Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen’ is available now.

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