Edward PLANTAGENET

(1st E. Warwick)

Born: 25 Feb 1474/5, Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, England

Acceded: 1478

Died: 29 Nov 1499, Tower Hill, London, Middlesex, England

Father: George PLANTAGENET (D. Clarence)

Mother: Isabel NEVILLE (D. Clarence)


Son of George, Duke of Clarence, and a potential claimant to the throne during the reigns of both King Richard III of England and his successor, Henry VII.

He was born on 25 Feb 1475, at Warwick, the family home of his mother, Isabel Neville, elder daughter of Richard Neville, Earl Warwick, the Kingmaker. Young Edward, inheriting the earldom of Warwick from his grandfather, via his mother, had a particularly tragic, short and star-crossed life. He was created Earl of Warwick in 1478, shortly after the attainder and execution of his father for treason. His potential claim to the throne following the deposition of his cousin, King Edward V in 1483, was overlooked because of the argument that the attainder of his father also barred Warwick from the succession (although that could have been reversed by an act of Parliament). Richard III had him shut up in closer confinement in Sheriff Hutton Castle.

After the death of King Richard's son Edward (1484), the 10-year-old Warwick was named heir to the throne, possibly thanks to the influence of the Queen, his aunt Anne Neville, who had adopted him and his sister Margaret following his parents' deaths. However, as soon as Queen Anne died, Richard named his sister Elizabeth's son, the adult John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, his heir in place of Warwick. Warwick appears to have been what in the present age would be called a retarded child. Some contemporary says: "Warwick... may have been simple-minded: later he was said not to be able to tell a goose from a capon". Richard is believed to have named him his heir as a temporary measure only to please his dying Queen, who survived her own son's death by less than a year.

With Richards defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, Edward was brought to London on the orders of the new king, Henry VII. Warwick was kept a prisoner because his claim, albeit tarnished, could become a threat to the new King - particularly after the appearance of the pretender, Lambert Simnel, in 1487. Although Simnel was a non-entity, the threat to the House of Tudor was real. One of the supporters was probably Elizabeth Woodville, the Dowager Queen her rapid confinement in a nunnery by her son-in-law speaks volumes for her complicity. More dangerous was the adherence of Elizabeth, Duchess of Burgundy, the late King Edwards sister. She raised two thousand German troops and sent them to Ireland. The puppet imposter Earl of Warwick was crowned King Edward VI in Dublin on 24 May 1487. After a meeting of the Royal Council at Charterhouse, Richmond, it was decided that the real Edward, Earl of Warwick be taken from the Tower, paraded through the streets of London and attend Mass at St. Pauls Cathedral. This did not stop the forces of the counterfeit Earl, swelled by Irish soldiers, from landing in Lancashire and marching south. Henry met and defeated the rising at Stoke, killing most of the leaders and taking the hapless Lambert prisoner. He quickly realized that Simnel was an innocent dupe and set him to work in the royal kitchens. There is a tale that he ended up the Kings falconer. The affair did, however, give young Edward one day of freedom it was to be his last. He was returned to the Tower where he was denied all contact with the outside world. It is even said that 'he could not discern a goose from a capon'. Nevertheless, the mere fact that he was alive must have been a cause of anxiety for Henry. Although, in 1490, he was confirmed in his title of Earl of Warwick despite his (father's) attainder, he remained in the Tower of London until the arrival of another pretender, Perkin Warbeck, in 1499. An unsuccessful escape attempt resulted in the execution for treason of both men.

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