Richard 3rd Duke of York appoints himself as Constable of England

The role of Constable of England is one of the great offices of state. It was the most senior prosecutor in medieval England. As such, the position was given to nobles who were senior and commanded the crown’s respect or had sufficient authority to enforce their will.

The position was used at several points during the Wars of the Roses to initiate trials and executions at very short notice, perhaps most famously after the battle of Tewkesbury.

25th May is the anniversary of two appointments to this position. The first, in 1450 of Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. This was a reward for his work as a warden of the marches, keeping Scottish raiders at bay. The position also potentially influences events in the North East where relations between his family and the neighbouring Neville family were frayed.

Richard Duke of York took the role of Constable of England for himself.

The second was not so much an appointment as a gift to oneself. When acting as Protector in 1455, Richard Duke of York appointed himself as Constable of England. This is a highly charged political move designed to ensure that neither himself nor his supporters could be subjected to summary trial.

It also meant that those holding grudges following the battle of St. Albans would need to tread very carefully.


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