Warwick, Richard Neville, earl of

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Warwick, Richard Neville, earl of

Richard Neville Warwick, earl of (nĕv´əl, wŏr´Ĭk), 1428–71, English nobleman, called the Kingmaker. Through his grandfather, Ralph Neville, 1st earl of Westmorland, he had connections with the house of Lancaster; he was also the nephew of Cecily Neville, wife of Richard, duke of York. Through his wife, Anne de Beauchamp, he inherited the earldom of Warwick and the vast Beauchamp estates. Thus by virtue of his family and lands, Warwick was the most powerful noble in England and the principal baronial figure in the Wars of the Roses (see Roses, Wars of the).

Yorkist Leader

With his father, the earl of Salisbury, Warwick supported Richard of York in his bid for the protectorship of Henry VI (1454) and took up arms when York lost his office. Warwick was largely responsible for the Yorkist victory at the first battle of St. Albans (1455) and was appointed to the strategic post of governor of Calais. In 1459 when fighting broke out again, York, Salisbury, and Warwick were forced to flee the country, but in 1460 they returned and captured the king at the battle of Northampton. The queen, Margaret of Anjou, raised an army in the north, defeated and killed York and Salisbury at Wakefield (1460), and defeated Warwick and recaptured Henry at the second battle of St. Albans (1461). But York's son, Edward, won the battle of Mortimer's Cross (1461), entered London, and was proclaimed king as Edward IV.

Rising against Edward IV

Henry and Margaret were decisively defeated at Towton (1461), and Edward was crowned. Warwick was now the most powerful man in England, and the Nevilles received extensive royal favors; but Edward resented the earl's domination. In the midst of negotiations by Warwick to marry Edward to Bona of Savoy, the sister-in-law of Louis XI of France, the king announced (1464) that he had secretly married Elizabeth Woodville. Edward now favored a Burgundian alliance against France, the Woodvilles received favor, and Warwick was gradually pushed into the background.

He formed an alliance with the king's brother George, duke of Clarence, to whom he married his daughter, against Edward's orders. Together they rose against Edward in 1469, defeated the king's forces, and placed Edward in captivity. By the end of the year, however, Edward had regained control, and in 1470, after another abortive rising, Warwick and Clarence fled to France. There Louis XI persuaded them to make up their differences with Margaret of Anjou, and in Sept., 1470, Warwick invaded England as a Lancastrian, defeated Edward (who fled abroad), and restored Henry VI. Within six months Edward secured Burgundian aid, landed in England, and was joined by Clarence. Edward and Warwick met in battle at Barnet; the earl was defeated and was slain in flight.

Although an able diplomat and a man of great energy, Warwick owed much of his greatness to his birth and marriage. By the marriage of his daughter to Clarence and the marriage after his death of another daughter to the duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, all of Warwick's property went to the royal house.

Bibliography

See P. M. Kendall, Warwick the Kingmaker (1957, repr. 1987).

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