Execution at Kenilworth of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers

Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and his son were captured shortly after the Battle of Edgcote. They became prisoners of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick. Rivers and the Woodville family were a source of annoyance for Warwick. They had received patronage because of favour shown to the Queen’s family, perceived to be at the expense of Warwick and the Neville family. Warwick had the King in his custody. Earl Rivers and his son, John Woodville, were subsequently executed, without trial, near Kenilworth on 12th August 1469.

With King Edward IV under his control the Earl of Warwick was in a position to eliminate his political opponents without any threat of immediate sanction. He grasped the opportunity with both hands.

“The Queens father and brother were taken, probably at Chepstow, and executed outside Coventry.”

The primary opposition to the Earl of Warwick came from those who had argued for a pro-Burgundian foreign policy, rather than that of a pro-France policy which had been preferred by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. King Edward IV’s decision to choose a Burgundian alliance was humiliating for the Earl of Warwick. Furthermore, it had been a policy that had been negotiated by Earl Rivers and those within the Woodville affinity.

Execution at Kenilworth of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and his son John Woodville 12th August 1469

Rivers and his son, John Woodville, were executed at Gosford Green, Kenilworth, on 12th August 1469.

“Edward [King Edward IV] was captured at Honiley or Olney, near Kenilworth, and brought by Archbishop Neville to Coventry, there to meet the Archbishop’s “brother of Warwick.” He was detained in the city as a prisoner until 9th August. But even then his humiliation was not complete. Three days later, when the King was certainly no further removed from the city than Warwick, the father and brother of Edward’s Queen, Lord Rivers and his son, John Woodville, who had been captured by rioters at Chepstow, fell into Warwick’s hands, and were beheaded on Gosford Green by his order.”.

The story of Coventry, Mary Dormer Harris

Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers was executed on 12th August 1469
King Edward IV and others
by Grignion
line engraving, probably 18th century
NPG D23941
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Leave a Reply