On 8 May 1483 the Council formally announced that Richard Duke of Gloucester would act as Lord High Protector of the realm. This would enable governance in the name of the uncrowned boy, Edward V. Such a move was far from unprecedented. Henry VI‘s minority had arrangements made, as had Richard II’s.
Parliament summoned by Richard as Protectot
Council also sent out writs summoning members to attend Parliament in June. These are important administrative decisions. As was seen in the infancy and incapacity of Henry VI, the system of government needed either an alert, adult king or a Protector to act on his behalf.
Richard Duke of Gloucester’s role as Lord Protector
Parliament was called to confirm decisions made for the minority rule and would also usually make grants of taxation to the new monarch. These two decisions enable governance to continue as smoothly as possible with the Protector making decisions with input from Council and Parliament continuing to have its rights. The confirmation of Richard’s role would see him hold a position similar to that which his father had twice during Henry VI’s periods of illness. In effect he would take on many monarchical roles until such time as a protector was not required.
Could Protectors and Minority Councils work?
The system could work, similar arrangements had for some of Henry Vis minority and in many ways during his incapacity. In the cases of the minority rule on behalf of Richard II and Henry VI a lead role was given to a senior noble. The councils, in theory, would debate matters but work on the understanding that the majority view would be accepted in order for a consensus to be maintained. Both of these examples had war with France and economic problems as major issues to contend with. There were disagreements amongst senior council members but it is worthy of note that the nobility in both cases remained loyal to the government, until both kings reached adulthood and became accountable for their own mistakes.
The Protectorships lack of longevity
Things changed quite quickly, the reign of Edward V being over upon the acceptance by the Three Estates of the invalidity of Edward IVs marriage to Elizabeth Woodville on 25th June 1483.
In the period in which Richard was Lord High Protector the roles that needed to be undertaken included governance of the country and preparations for the coronation of Edward V. Arrangements for the education of Edward V would also have been discussed given the arrest of Earl Rivers who had been responaible for this prior to the death of Edward IV.