NEVILLE, RICHARD, Earl of Salisbury (1428–1471), the ‘Kingmaker,’ the eldest son of Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury [q. v.], by Alice, daughter and heiress of Thomas Montacute, fourth earl of Salisbury [q. v.], was born on 22 Nov. 1428. His brothers, John Neville, marquis of Montagu [q. v.], and George, archbishop of York [q. v.], are separately noticed. At some uncertain date before 1439 Richard was betrothed by his father, who was uniting the Neville and Beauchamp families by a chain of marriages, to Anne Beauchamp, only daughter of Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick [q. v.] In 1444 two lives stood between them and the great Beauchamp heritage in the midlands and the Welsh marches, but, by the death of her niece and namesake in June 1449, Richard Neville’s wife inherited the bulk of her father’s wide lands; and the king on 23 July conferred upon her husband in her right the earldom of Warwick (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 304). As premier earl Richard Neville took precedence of his father, whose lands, too, could not compare in extent with the Beauchamp inheritance, which had absorbed that of the Despensers, and included the castles of Warwick, Elmley, Worcester, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Neath, Abergavenny, and, in the north, Barnard Castle. He was lord of Glamorgan and Morgan, and succeeded in retaining possession of the castle and honour of Bergavenny, which was claimed by his father’s youngest brother, who took his title therefrom [see under Edward Neville, Baron of Bergavenny]. But it was not until the sword was bared in the strife of factions in 1455 that Warwick made an independent position for himself, and overshadowed his father. In the meantime he remained with Salisbury, outwardly neutral in the struggle between his uncle Richard, duke of York, and his cousin Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset.
When York took up arms in February 1452, Warwick joined his father in mediating between the parties (Paston Letters, i. cxlviii). But immediately after the old jealousy between the Nevilles and the great rival northern house of the Percies, who sided with the court party, reached an acute stage, and when York, on the king’s being seized with madness in July 1453, claimed the regency, Warwick and his father placed themselves on his side (ib.) He was summoned to the privy council (6 Dec.), and associated with his father (20 Dec.) as warden of the west march of Scotland (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 165; Doyle). In January 1454 he rode up to London in York’s train with a ‘goodly fellowship,’ and had a thousand men awaiting him in the city (Paston Letters, i. 266). He sat regularly in the privy council while York was protector, and was commissioner with York and his father on 13 April to invest the infant son of Henry VI with the title of Prince of Wales (Doyle; cf. Paston Letters, i. 299; Rot. Parl. v. 240). On the king’s recovery, early in 1455, Somerset returned to power, and Salisbury, with other Yorkists, was dismissed from office. Now thoroughly identified with York, Salisbury and Warwick took up arms with him in May (Rot. Parl. v. 280–1). In the first battle of St. Albans, which followed on 22 May, Warwick had the good fortune to decide the day and win somewhat easily a military reputation. York and Salisbury met with a desperate resistance in the side streets, by which they sought to get at the Lancastrians massed in the main street of the town. Warwick, with the Yorkist centre, broke through the intermediate gardens and houses, and, issuing into the main street, blew trumpets and raised his war-cry of ‘A Warwick, a Warwick!’ (Paston Letters, i. 330). The rest was a street fight and massacre. It has been suggested that the great slaughter of nobles, a new feature in mediæval warfare, must be attributed to Warwick (Ramsay, Lancaster and York, ii. 183); but the bitterness of civil strife and the close quarters in which they fought must be taken into account. The policy of slaying the leaders and sparing the commons is certainly attributed to him at Northampton five years later (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 97). Edward IV, however, is represented by Comines (i. 245) as almost claiming this policy as his own. Warwick’s energy was undoubtedly the decisive factor in York’s success, and the ‘evil day of St. Albans’ was closely associated with his name (Paston Letters, i. 345). His services were rewarded (August) with a grant for seven years of the coveted captaincy of Calais, which had been held by the dead Somerset (ib. p. 334; Rot. Parl. v. 309, 341). The post was a congenial one to a man of his unbridled energy, and York required some one he could trust there to conduct negotiations with Philip, duke of Burgundy, and others who were hostile to Charles VII of France, Queen Margaret’s uncle and friend. Messengers were in London in November from John, duke of Alençon, who was conspiring against Charles, and urging an English invasion of France. Warwick in their presence put the duke’s seal to his lips and swore to accomplish his wishes, even if he had to pledge all his lands (Beaucourt, Hist. of Charles VII, vi. 52). But the lieutenants of the late captain of Calais, Lords Welles and Rivers, refused to hand over their charge to Warwick; and it was not until the garrison had been propitiated by a parliamentary arrangement for the payment of their arrears that he was allowed on 20 April 1456 to take over the command (Ord. Privy Council, vi. 276; Rot. Parl. v. 341; Ramsay, ii. 191). Alençon’s conspiracy was detected in May, and Warwick seems to have stayed in England until October, when Margaret ousted York and himself from the conduct of the government, and but for the Duke of Buckingham’s intervention would have put them under arrest (Paston Letters, i. 386, 392; Rot. Parl. v. 347). Warwick went over to Calais, and presently entered into negotiations with Philip of Burgundy, with whose representatives he held a conference at Oye, near Calais, in the first week of July 1457 (Beaucourt, vi. 124). Though Queen Margaret for the moment had the upper hand in England, Charles VII had good reason to resent the possession of Calais by the Yorkists. In August, accordingly, the French admiral De Brezé sacked Sandwich, from which Calais was victualled (ib. p. 145; Paston Letters, i. 416–17). But De Brezé’s success only strengthened Warwick’s position. The Duke of Exeter, who was captain of the sea, failed to have his fleet ready before the injury was done, and his neglect gave Warwick’s friends the opportunity of obtaining the transfer of the post to him for three years, with a lien on the whole of the tonnage and poundage, and 1,000l. a year from the duchy of Lancaster (ib. i. 424; Doyle; Rot. Parl. v. 347).
In February or March 1458 he came over from Calais, with six hundred men ‘in red jackets with white ragged staves [a Beauchamp cognisance] upon them,’ to take part in the projected reconciliation of parties (Fabyan, p. 633). His share in the fatal battle of St. Albans was to be forgiven on condition that he helped to found a chantry at St. Albans for masses for the souls of the dead, and made over one thousand marks to the relatives of Lord Clifford, who had been slain in the battle (Whethamstede, i. 295–8). In the ‘love-day’ procession to St. Paul’s on 25 March Warwick walked with Exeter, who bore him no good will since he had supplanted him as captain of the sea (Paston Letters, i. 424). The harmony of parties was of the hollowest description, and Calais continued to be a centre of Yorkist intrigue. Warwick returned to his post, and seems to have secretly arranged with Duke Philip for common action against France and Queen Margaret. A marriage was suggested between a granddaughter of Philip and one of York’s sons, but the duke was not yet prepared to commit himself so openly to the Yorkist cause (Fœdera, xi. 410; Beaucourt, vi. 260).
Warwick, moreover, did not think it prudent to attack France directly, but did not hesitate to assail a fleet of twenty-eight ‘sail of Spaniards,’ merchantmen, including sixteen ships of forecastle belonging to Charles VII’s ally, Henry IV of Castille, which appeared off Calais on 29 May 1458. Warwick had twelve vessels, of which only five were ships of forecastle, and after six hours’ fighting withdrew. He had captured six ships, but one at least of these seems to have been recovered. The loss of life on the English side was considerable, and they acknowledged themselves ‘well and truly beat’ (Paston Letters, i. 428). Nevertheless this achievement and the others which followed were hailed in England with unwarrantable enthusiasm. There had not been so great a battle on the sea since Henry V’s days, men said (ib.) Warwick, who affected a generous ardour for the national well-being, had already won favour with the people (Wavrin, v. 319). His exploits in the Channel made him the idol of the seafaring population of the southern ports, especially in Kent, which had suffered greatly by the loss of Normandy and the boldness of French pirates and privateers. Bent on confirming the impression he had made, Warwick within a very few weeks sallied forth from Calais, summoned a salt fleet bound for Lübeck to strike their flags ‘in the king’s name of England,’ and on their refusal carried them into Calais (Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 71). This was a flagrant violation of the truce which had been made with Lübeck only two years before, and gave Queen Margaret an opening of which she did not fail to avail herself. Lord Rivers, Sir Thomas Kyriel, and others were commissioned (31 July) to hold a public inquiry into his conduct (Fœdera, xi. 374, 415). The result is not known, but the queen seems to have called upon Warwick to resign his post to the young Duke of Somerset (Stevenson, Wars in France, i. 368). The earl came over to London in the autumn, and declined to resign it except to parliament, from whom he had received it. After a narrow escape in a broil which broke out at the council between one of his men and a royal servant, on 9 Nov. (Fabyan, p. 634; cf. Whethamstede, i. 340), Warwick returned to Calais, and in the following spring (1459) made a more legitimate addition to his naval reputation by attacking five great carracks of Spain and Genoa (which had been occupied by France in June 1458), and, after two days’ hard fighting, brought three of them into Calais (Whethamstede, i. 330; Beaucourt, vi. 239; Ord. Privy Council, vol. v. p. cxxxii). The booty is said to have been worth 10,000l., and to have halved the price of certain commodities in England for that year.
In the summer, when France and Burgundy were on the verge of war, and Margaret, alarmed by York’s evident designs upon the crown, began to arm in the north of England, Warwick was summoned from Calais by his father and uncle, Richard, duke of York, to join them in seizing the king, who was in Warwickshire (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 80). Leaving his wife and daughters at Calais in charge of another uncle, William Neville, lord Fauconberg [q. v.], he landed six hundred picked men of the Calais garrison, under the veteran Sir Andrew Trollope, at Sandwich, and marched rapidly into the midlands. Passing through Coleshill, near Coventry, the same day as Somerset, who was bringing up forces from the west to the queen’s assistance, but without meeting him, and finding that Henry had withdrawn to Nottingham, he made his way to York at Ludlow (Gregory, p. 205). Here they were joined by his father, who had cut his way to them by a victory at Blore Heath. They entrenched a position at Ludford, opposite Ludlow, but, as at St. Albans, Lord Clinton was the only peer who had joined them; and when Henry in person appeared at the head of a superior force on 12 Oct., Trollope, who had no mind to fight against the king, went over in the night with the Calais men (ib.; Fabyan, p. 634). The rest of the Yorkist force dispersed, and the leaders fled in various directions. They had been unable to conceal the real character of their movement, and had found little sympathy in the midlands, in spite of the Neville influence. Warwick and the rest were attainted by a parliament at Coventry, and Somerset, who had been appointed captain of Calais three days before the rout of Ludford, set out shortly after for his post. But he found Warwick safely returned, and the gates closed to him. Warwick had fled from Ludford, with his father and the Earl of March, York’s eldest son, into Devonshire, where Sir John Dynham provided them with a vessel, in which, after refreshing at Guernsey, they reached Calais on 2 Nov., three weeks after leaving Ludlow (Fabyan, p. 635; Whethamstede, p. 345). Wavrin relates (v. 277) that Warwick himself had to take the helm in the voyage to Guernsey, because the sailors did not know those waters. Somerset established himself at Guisnes, but a storm, or sailors attached to Warwick, brought his ships into Calais harbour; and Warwick, finding on board some of his men who had declined to fight for him against their king at Ludford, had them promptly beheaded (Fabyan, p. 635; Wavrin, v. 281).
But, in spite of some support from the Duke of Burgundy, Warwick’s position at Calais, with Somerset close by and no supplies from England, was one of danger, and his men began to desert to Guisnes (cf. Fabyan, pp. 635, 652). Lord Rivers was stationed at Sandwich to overawe Warwick’s Kentish friends and prevent a landing. But in January 1460 Sir John Dynham surprised Rivers and his son, Antony Wydeville, in their beds, and carried them off to Calais, where Warwick and the rest taunted them with their humble birth (Paston Letters, i. 506). In May Warwick went to Ireland, where York had found refuge, and concerted a combined invasion of England for the summer. Returning with his mother, who had been with York, he fell in off the Devonshire coast, about 1 June, with a fleet sent out under the Duke of Exeter to intercept him, but was allowed to proceed unmolested (Worcester, p. 772; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 85). Reaching Calais after less than a month’s absence, he prepared, in accordance with the plan arranged with York, for a descent upon Kent, whose attachment to York and himself had been strengthened by the severity shown to their partisans (ib. p. 90). An anonymous ballad posted on the gates of Canterbury implied that the Prince of Wales was a false heir, and prayed for the return of York, the ‘true blood’ of March, Salisbury ‘called Prudence,’
With that noble knight and flower of manhood,
Richard, earl of Warwick, shield of our defence
(ib. p. 93).
Manifestoes less frank were issued from Calais, repeating the usual charges of oppression and misgovernment, accusing Wiltshire, Shrewsbury, and Beaumont of plotting the death of York and the surrender of Calais, and threatening war if the Coventry attainders were not reversed (ib. p. 88). In the last week in June Dynham and Fauconberg seized Sandwich. Osbert Mundeford [q. v.], who was lying there with a force intended for the relief of Somerset, was sent over to Calais, and beheaded on 25 June—another victim of Warwick’s vengeance for the desertions at Ludford (ib. p. 86; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 73; Worcester, p. 772; Gregory, p. 207). Next day Warwick crossed to Sandwich with March and Salisbury, and forces estimated at from fifteen hundred to two thousand men. They were accompanied by a papal legate, Francesco dei Coppini, bishop of Terni, who, sent by Pius II to mediate between the two parties in England, had been completely won over by Warwick (Worcester, p. 772; Whethamstede, i. 371; State Papers, Venetian, i. 357–8). Joined by Archbishop Bourchier and the men of Kent, under Lord Cobham, Warwick reached Southwark, where his brother, George Neville [q. v.], bishop of Exeter, met them, with forces twenty thousand strong according to one estimate, forty thousand according to others. London was so friendly to them that Lords Hungerford and Scales, who held it for the king, shut themselves up in the Tower, and the Yorkist earls on 2 July entered the city. At nine next morning they attended the session of convocation at St. Paul’s, and Warwick explained that they were come to declare their innocence to the king or die on the field, after which they all solemnly swore on the cross of St. Thomas of Canterbury that they meant nothing inconsistent with the allegiance they owed to King Henry (Worcester, p. 772; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 95). Leaving his father to besiege the Tower, Warwick a few days later advanced northwards, with March, to meet the king, who had set forth from Coventry towards London on hearing of his landing. With Warwick, besides the archbishop and the legate, were his brother, the Bishop of Exeter, and three other bishops, seven lay peers, of whom two, Fauconberg and Abergavenny, were his uncles, and a third, Lord Scrope of Bolton, his cousin, and ‘much people out of Kent, Sussex, and Essex,’ greatly overestimated, no doubt, at sixty thousand men (Whethamstede, i. 372; Chron. ed. Davies, p. 96). On the morning of Thursday, 10 July, he came upon the king’s army entrenched in the meadows immediately south of Northampton, with the Nen at their back (ib.; Whethamstede, pp. 373–4). The Duke of Buckingham, not unreasonably, declined the proffered mediation of the prelates in Warwick’s train, or to admit Warwick himself to the king’s presence; and at two in the afternoon the earl gave the signal for the attack, dividing the command with March and Fauconberg. The immediate desertion of Henry by Lord Grey de Ruthin decided the battle, and all was over in half an hour. Warwick and March had issued orders that no quarter should be given to the leaders. Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Lords Beaumont and Egremont were all slain (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 97). Warwick brought the unfortunate king to London (16 July) in time to receive the surrender of the Tower on Wednesday, 18 July, and on the following Wednesday some seven of the followers of his rival, the Duke of Exeter, constable of the Tower, were arraigned at the Guildhall in his presence and executed (Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 75; Worcester, p. 773).
Placing the great seal, resigned by Bishop Waynflete before the battle, in the hands of his young brother, the Bishop of Exeter, and procuring the confirmation of his captaincy of Calais, with appointment as governor of the Channel Islands, Warwick crossed to Calais about 15 Aug. with a royal order calling upon Somerset to surrender Guisnes to him. He soon came to terms with the duke, and entered into possession (ib. p. 774; Fœdera, ix. 458–9).
In September he made pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk (Wavrin, v. 309), afterwards met the Duke of York at Shrewsbury, and thence preceded him to London (ib. p. 310). In October the House of Lords, although now generally supporting York, successfully resisted York’s proposal to ascend the throne. Wavrin ascribes this conduct to the influence of Warwick, who, he says, had quarrelled with the duke on the subject. Warwick’s interposition is not mentioned by any English authority, and Wavrin cannot be implicitly trusted. But Warwick was bound, if not by his recent oath, yet by his engagements to the legate Coppini, and may very well have thought that he would lose some of the power he now wielded in the name of the helpless Henry if the throne were occupied by a real king. The recent Yorkist triumph had been the work of himself and his family without York’s assistance, and Warwick’s popularity had perhaps a little dimmed his uncle’s (cf. Paston Letters, i. 522). The compromise which made York heir-presumptive was completed on 31 Oct., and in the thanksgiving procession to St. Paul’s next day Warwick bore the sword before the king, and the people are said to have shouted, ‘Long live King Henry and the Earl of Warwick!’ (Wavrin, v. 318). When, in December, the queen rallied the Lancastrians in Yorkshire, and York and Salisbury went north to meet their death at Wakefield, while March was sent to raise troops on the Welsh border, Warwick was left in charge of London and the king, and kept Christmas with Henry in the Bishop of London’s palace by St. Paul’s.
The death of his father finally concentrated the power of the house of Neville in Warwick’s hands. The earldom of Salisbury and its lands in the south passed to him, as well as the Neville estates in Yorkshire, with the great family strongholds at Middleham and Sheriff-Hutton. He was in no haste to communicate with Edward, the young Duke of York. Master of the king’s person, he doubtless intended to continue to rule in his name. He had himself created knight of the Garter and great chamberlain of England, while his brother John became Lord Montagu and chamberlain of the household (Doyle). A third brother, George, was chancellor. He held the threads of foreign policy in his own hands. He was in correspondence with the Duke of Milan, and was soliciting a cardinal’s hat for Coppini from Pope Pius (State Papers, Venetian, i. 363–4). But the fortune of war took the direction of affairs out of his hands. When news came that the queen was marching on London with her undisciplined northern host, Warwick collected his forces, and, taking the king with him, he left London on Thursday, 12 Feb., accompanied by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Arundel, Viscount Bourchier, Lord Bonvile, and his own brother Montagu (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 107). His plan was to intercept the queen at St. Albans, and he seems to have pitched his camp on Barnet Heath, the open high ground at the north end of the town, as if he expected the enemy to come by the Luton road (Whethamstede, i. 391; cf. Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 155). But the queen’s forces entered the town before he expected them, on Tuesday, 17 Feb., by the Dunstable road; and after being driven back from the market cross by a few archers, made a circuit, and forced their way into the main street between Warwick and the town. He hastily fell back, with the king and the bulk of his army, towards Sandridge, three miles north-east (Chron. ed. Davies, p. 107). A force, estimated by Whethamstede at four or five thousand men, remained behind, and opposed a stubborn resistance to the enemy; but, unsupported by the main body, and deserted by some of their number, they at last gave way. The main body then broke up, and their leaders, Warwick among them, fled, leaving the king to be recovered by his friends. The engagement is known as the second battle of St. Albans. Warwick, who had shown a signal lack of generalship, hurried westwards with the remnant of his army, and at Chipping Norton, in Oxfordshire, met the young Duke of York, who had dispersed the western Lancastrians on 2 Feb. at Mortimer’s Cross (Worcester, p. 777; cf. Gregory, p. 215). The queen having withdrawn into the north without occupying London, Warwick rode, with Edward and his Welshmen and western men, into the capital on Thursday, 26 Feb. (ib.)
The events of the last few months had removed any reluctance of the Yorkists to deprive King Henry of his crown. Warwick, too, had lost control of him, and he saw that his interests were now bound up with those of the Yorkist dynasty. He consequently joined the handful of peers at Baynard’s Castle on 3 March in declaring Edward king. But his influence was for the moment diminished, Edward was at the head of a victorious army, and Warwick was a vanquished general. His brother was confirmed in his office of chancellor. Without waiting for his coronation, Edward determined to follow the retreating Lancastrians into the north. Warwick was sent forward with the vanguard (7 March), troops were despatched after him, and Edward, leaving London, by 16 March overtook him at Leicester (Chron. of White Rose, p. 8). They reached Pontefract on the 27th, and Warwick was sent on with Sir John Ratcliffe, titular Lord Fitzwalter, to secure the passage of the Aire at Ferrybridge, some four miles north, where the great north road crossed the river (Croyland, Cont. p. 532; Gregory, p. 216). Hall says they found the bridge unoccupied, but were surprised in Ferrybridge at daybreak on Saturday, 28 March, by Lord Clifford and a detachment of the Lancastrian army which was encamped at Towton, nine miles north on the road to Tadcaster and the Wharfe (Hall, p. 254; cf. State Papers, Venetian, i. 370). Fitzwalter was slain and Warwick wounded in the leg with an arrow (Gregory, p. 216). But the passage of the river was ultimately effected, and in the course of the day the Yorkist army moved up to Saxton, at the foot of the Towton plateau, on which the battle of Towton was fought next day, Palm Sunday. For the skilful leadership of the inferior Yorkist forces Edward rather than Warwick was responsible. Warwick, according to Hall, commanded the centre; but the hardest fighting was on the left, where his uncle Fauconberg was in command, and not at the centre, as asserted by Wavrin (p. 341), who, however, ascribes the victory to the ‘grant proesse principalement’ of the king (cf. Monstrelet, iii. 84, ed. 1603).
By the beginning of May Edward thought it safe to go south for his coronation, leaving Warwick and Fauconberg to keep watch on the Lancastrians. Henry VI and his queen, with Somerset, Exeter, and other lords, were beating up support in Scotland, and their partisans still held the great castles beyond the Tyne, Warkworth, Alnwick, Bamborough, and Dunstanborough. At Middleham, where Warwick entertained the king before he left Yorkshire, Edward confirmed him (7 May) in the offices of great chamberlain and captain of Calais, and bestowed on him the important post of constable of Dover Castle and warden of the Cinque ports, with other distinctions (Doyle). He was made warden of the Scottish marches on 31 July, and a few days later empowered to treat with Scotland, but was able to attend Edward’s first parliament, which met on 4 Nov. The attainder of his ancestors, John de Montacute, third earl of Salisbury, and Thomas le Despenser, earl of Gloucester, beheaded in 1400, was reversed for the benefit of Warwick and his mother.
During the first three years of the reign Warwick was much more prominent than the king. He was the king’s first cousin, and might, says Commines (i. 232), almost call himself his father. ‘There was none in England of the half possessions that he had’ (Chron. of White Rose, p. 23). His offices alone, according to Commines, brought him an annual income of eighty thousand crowns. The House of Lords was packed with his kinsmen. He held the keys of the Channel. Edward’s energy, moreover, was spasmodic; he preferred pleasure to politics, and left to Warwick, who had the gifts of a diplomatist and sleepless energy, the task of defeating the foreign combinations which the exiled Margaret was attempting. Foreign observers looked on him as the real ruler of England. The Burgundian historian Chastellain (iv. 159) spoke of him as the pillar of Edward’s throne, and Bishop Kennedy, one of the Scottish regents, as managing English affairs for the king (Wavrin, iii. 173, ed. Dupont). The letters from the Sforza archives at Milan, printed in the ‘Calendar of Venetian State Papers,’ bear witness to his importance. In Scotland he roused a revolt in the highlands (1461), and detached the queen-mother, Mary of Gueldres, and her party from active support of Margaret (ib.) v. 355, ed. Hardy; J. Duclercq, p. 169; Fœdera, xi. 476–7, 483–7). Margaret’s application for aid to her cousin, the new king of France, Louis XI, in the summer of 1461, Warwick met by an offer of Edward’s hand to the Duke of Burgundy for his niece, Catherine of Bourbon (Chastellain, iv. 155). But Philip did not care to bind himself so closely to Edward as long as his throne remained insecure, and his heir Charles, count of Charolais, was friendly with the Lancastrians (ib. p. 159). After Margaret’s departure for France early in 1462, Warwick met Mary of Gueldres at Dumfries and Carlisle, with a view to depriving the Lancastrians of Scottish support. He even suggested, though probably not very seriously, that Mary should marry Edward IV (Worcester, p. 779). He came to some arrangement with her, which was believed in England to have included a promise to surrender Henry and his followers (Paston Letters, ii. 111).
His diplomatic labours had obliged him to leave the siege of the Northumbrian castles to his brother Montagu and his brother-in-law Hastings, who, in July, reduced Naworth, Alnwick, and apparently Bamborough (ib.; Worcester, p. 779). Hearing that Margaret was returning to the north with a small force supplied by Louis XI, Warwick, who had come up to London, went back to his post on 30 Oct. with a large army (ib. p. 780; Paston Letters, ii. 120). Edward, who followed him, fell ill with measles at Durham, and Warwick superintended the siege of the three strongholds, Dunstanborough, Bamborough, and Alnwick, the two latter having been recovered by Margaret. Warwick himself fixed his headquarters at Warkworth, whence he rode daily to view the three leaguers, a ride of thirty-four miles (ib. ii. 121). Bamborough and Dunstanborough surrendered on Christmas eve, but Alnwick held out until the sudden arrival on 6 Jan., at early morning, of an army of relief from Scotland under Angus and de Brezé (Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 176; Worcester, p. 780). As at the second battle of St. Albans, Warwick was entirely taken by surprise, and withdrew from the castle to a position by the river. The bulk of the garrison issued forth and joined their friends, who retreated with them to Scotland. According to Worcester, Warwick had at first thought of fighting, but gave up the idea because he was inferior in numbers (cf. Warkworth, and Hardyng, p. 406, who says the Scots were not more than than eight thousand men). Alnwick capitulating soon after, Warwick went south to attend the parliament which met at Westminster on 29 April (Rot. Parl. v. 496). Contemporary opinion censured the king and the earl for feasting in London while the northern fortresses were falling back into the hands of the Lancastrians (Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 176). It was certainly imprudent of Warwick to leave Bamborough in charge of the Lancastrian deserter Sir Ralph Percy, and to offend the local Sir Ralph Grey of Heton by giving the captaincy of Alnwick to Sir John Ashley. On the news of the loss of these two fortresses Montagu at once went north (1 June), and, being presently joined by Warwick, they relieved Norham (July), which was besieged by Margaret and De Brezé (Gregory, p. 220). The other fortresses still held out, but Margaret was at the end of her resources, and hastily withdrew to Flanders (ib.) Warwick went south without recovering the castles, perhaps hoping for a peaceful settlement from the truce with Louis XI, which his brother the chancellor negotiated in October. The Scots soon made overtures for peace, and Warwick, Montagu, and the chancellor were commissioned to hold a conference at York with Scottish ambassadors (Fœdera, xi. 514–15). Warwick was detained in London by negotiations with ambassadors from France and Burgundy, and, though he reached York by 5 May, his brother Montagu had the sole honour of giving the quietus to the northern Lancastrians at Hedgeley Moor and Hexham. In June the two brothers reduced the three outstanding strongholds (Warkworth, p. 36; Worcester, p. 782). All England, except an isolated handful of men in Harlech Castle, had now submitted to Edward, and foreign powers had ceased to look askance upon him. For this he had to thank Warwick and the Nevilles.
But Edward was already drifting away from his chief supporters. His secret marriage with Elizabeth Wydeville, daughter of Lord Rivers, in May, which was probably dictated by infatuated passion, disgusted Warwick. He despised Rivers and his family as upstarts, though curiously enough he had twelve years before interested himself in the suit of a young knight, Sir Hugh Johns, for the hand of this very Elizabeth Wydeville (Strickland, Queens of England, i. 318). They were Lancastrians too, and had not forgotten the imprisonment and ‘rating’ they had received at Warwick’s hands in 1460 (Paston Letters, i. 506). But, worst of all, the marriage shattered to pieces his laborious foreign combinations. Warwick had at first thought of a Burgundian match for Edward; but the support which Margaret had found in France, coupled perhaps with a mutual antipathy between him and Charles, the heir of Burgundy, made him welcome the offer which Louis XI, scenting danger from Burgundy and his other great feudatories, made early in this very year of the hand of his sister-in-law, Bona of Savoy (Chastellain, iv. 155, 494; Basin, ii. 94; Ramsay, ii. 307). Warwick was to have met Louis and the proposed bride in July, but the renewed outbreak in the north caused a postponement until October, and before that Edward had publicly announced his marriage. It was unpopular in the country, but Warwick dissembled his irritation, and helped to lead Elizabeth into the chapel of Reading Abbey on her public presentation (29 Sept.) as queen (Worcester, p. 783). George Neville’s translation to the archbishopric of York two days before seemed to be a pledge that Edward had no thought of shaking himself free of the Nevilles. But Warwick can hardly have been mistaken in ascribing the shower of honours and rich marriages poured upon the queen’s kinsmen as a deliberate attempt to create a court party, and get rid of the oppressive ascendency of the Nevilles. The ‘diabolic marriage’ of his septuagenarian aunt Catherine, duchess dowager of Norfolk, to John Wydeville, who was hardly one-fourth her age, and the bestowal on Lord Herbert of the barony of Dunster, to which Warwick had a claim as representing the Montagus, were galling to him personally, and seemed to point to deliberate intention (ib. pp. 783–5).
Warwick avoided the signal triumph of the Wydevilles, exemplified at the coronation of the queen in May 1465, by crossing the Channel on a foreign mission (cf. Wavrin, v. 463; RAMSAY, ii. 314). He succeeded in withdrawing Louis’s active support from Margaret, by binding England to neutrality between the French king and his rebellious magnates. Returning home in time to meet, at Islington, King Henry, who had been captured in Lancashire, he conducted him in bonds to the Tower (cf. Worcester, p. 786). In February next year he stood godfather for Queen Elizabeth’s first child. But new Wydeville marriages and fresh honours for Rivers, who was made an earl, and replaced Warwick’s uncle by marriage, Lord Mountjoy, as treasurer, widened the growing breach (ib.) Warwick was still busy with foreign negotiations, but had to carry out a policy which was not his own. He had preferred a French to a Burgundian alliance, because Charolais, who must soon become Duke of Burgundy, seemed more wedded to the Lancastrian cause than Louis (Commines, iii. 201). He continued his opposition even when Charolais changed his front, and in March 1466 sought the hand of Edward’s sister, because the change was in part due to the Wydevilles, who had Burgundian connections, and knew how popular the Burgundian alliance was among the English trading classes (Chastellain, v. 311–12). Warwick had, as ambassador, to reject Louis’s offers of Burgundian territory, accept the offered alliance, and suggest a further match between Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charolais, and the Duke of Clarence, whom he had perhaps already designed for his own elder daughter. He did it with a bad grace, and lost no opportunity of putting obstacles in the way (Croyland Cont. p. 551; Wavrin, ed. Hardy, v. 458; Fœdera, xi. 562–6).
In the autumn, while Warwick was on the Scottish marches, the queen’s stepson was married to the heiress of the Duke of Exeter, whom Warwick had intended for his nephew, the son of Montagu, and Edward concluded a private league with the Count of Charolais, in order to forward his match with the king’s sister (Fœdera, xi. 573–4; Wavrin, iii. 341, ed. Dupont). To get Warwick out of the way while the marriage was concluded and his ascendency shaken off, he was sent to France in May 1467, commissioned to hold out a prospect of an offensive alliance against Burgundy and the marriage of one of Edward’s brothers to a daughter of Louis (State Papers, Venetian, i. 404). Warwick, bent on averting the Burgundian alliance, reached Rouen on 6 June, and found Louis, who was resolved to recover the towns on the Somme from Burgundy, ready to bid heavily for English support. His only hope of averting the threatened Anglo-Burgundian alliance lay in Warwick, whom he therefore entertained at Rouen with honours almost royal for twelve days, holding secret conferences with him, and finally dismissing him with an embassy charged with tempting offers to King Edward (Chron. of White Rose, p. 21; Wavrin, ed. Hardy, v. 543). But Warwick returned to London early in July to find that his opponents had sprung their mine. Two days after his arrival at Rouen the king had, in person, taken the great seal from his brother; Charles’s half-brother Antony, the Bastard of Burgundy, had entered England as he himself left it; and had practically settled the Burgundian marriage before he was summoned back by Duke Philip’s death on 15 June (Worcester, p. 786). Warwick was coldly received by Edward, who, after giving the French ambassadors a single freezing interview, went off to Windsor on 6 July (Wavrin, v. 545; ib. ed. Dupont, iii. 195). In their presence Warwick hotly denounced the traitors about the king. Charles, the new Duke of Burgundy, confirmed (15 July) the treaty of the previous October, Rivers was made constable of England, and by October Charles’s marriage to Margaret was definitely settled (Chastellain, v. 312; Worcester, p. 788). Warwick, who had been further irritated by the pointed omission of some of his grants from the crown from the exceptions to the Resumption Act of the June parliament, saw the French ambassadors off at Sandwich, and, without visiting the king again, betook himself to Middleham.
His close relations with Clarence, for whose marriage with his daughter Isabel he was seeking a papal dispensation, and the suspicion of some secret arrangement with the French king, were very disquieting to the court. An intercepted envoy of Margaret of Anjou was induced to accuse Warwick of favouring her party. Warwick was summoned to court to answer the charge, but declined to appear, and demanded the dismissal of the Wydevilles and others about the king (Worcester, p. 788). Though a royal representative sent to Middleham reported the charge groundless, Edward took the precaution of surrounding himself with a bodyguard and watching Warwick’s movements from Coventry (ib.) There was very real cause for alarm. Warwick’s attitude had put new heart into the Lancastrians, and in December Monipenny came into England on a mission from Louis to Warwick only (Wavrin, ed. Dupont, iii. 192). His Kentish friends began to move. In the Cinque ports he was particularly popular, because he always connived at their piracies (Olivier de la Marche, ii. 276). Rivers’s Kentish estate was pillaged by the mob on New-year’s day 1468 (Wavrin, ed. Dupont, iii. 192). Warwick evaded a second summons to court in the first week of January. The mysterious Robin of Redesdale had taken up arms, with three hundred men, for him in Yorkshire, but Warwick had made them go home for the present (ib.) With the king on his guard and Clarence at court, Warwick felt that it was not yet time to move. Towards the end of January Archbishop Neville persuaded him to meet Rivers at Nottingham, where they were outwardly reconciled (Worcester, p. 789). They then went on to the king at Coventry, where the pacification was completed. Edward was able to announce to parliament, to its great delight, his intention of recovering the English dominions in France, and brought the Burgundian marriage to a conclusion in July. Warwick had accompanied Margaret to the coast, ‘riding before her on her horse’ (18 June), and seemed to be really reconciled. But, taking advantage of the easy, unsuspicious nature of the king, he was plotting in the utmost secrecy. A Lancastrian movement fomented by him was checked by arrests and executions in the autumn and winter of 1468, though his share in it was not suspected. The secret of his plans for his own restoration to power was better kept. He arranged for a northern rising as soon as he should have made sure of Clarence. But so well did he dissemble that Edward in the spring of 1469 allowed him to take up his residence, with his wife and daughters, at Calais, whose captaincy he had for some years discharged by deputy. To further throw dust in the eyes of the king, he paid friendly visits to the Duke and Duchess of Burgundy at St. Omer and Aire (Commines, i. 169; Wavrin, v. 578). Jean de Wavrin the historian, whom he had promised to supply with materials for his history, visited Calais at the beginning of July, but found Warwick too busy to perform his promise. In June the king was drawn northwards by alarming movements in Yorkshire. At first he would not connect them with the Nevilles, for there were two independent risings, which the reports seem to have confused, one of which, that of Robin of Holderness, took up the Percy grievances, and was suppressed by Montagu himself, the de facto Earl of Northumberland.
But presently, no doubt, Edward heard that the leaders who had raised the standard of Robin of Redesdale were all relatives and connections of Warwick—his nephew, Sir Henry Fitzhugh, son of Lord Fitzhugh of Ravensworth, near Richmond; his cousin, Sir Henry Neville, son of George, lord Latimer of Danby, in Cleveland; and Sir John Conyers of Hornby Castle, near Richmond, who had married a daughter of William Neville, lord Fauconberg [q. v.] The news that Clarence and the archbishop had joined Warwick in Calais (early in July) at last opened the king’s eyes, and he summoned them to come to him at once in ‘usual peaceable wise’ (Paston Letters, ii. 353). But two days later (11 July) the marriage of Clarence to Isabel, for which Pope Paul II had now granted a dispensation, was performed by the archbishop at Calais (Wavrin, v. 579; Warkworth, p. 6; Dugdale, i. 307). The three confederates at once put forth a manifesto, announcing that they were coming to present to the king certain ‘reasonable and profitable articles of petition,’ and calling upon all ‘true subjects’ to join them, defensibly arrayed. The articles, which were already in the hands of Robin of Redesdale’s followers, and purported to be complaints delivered to the confederates by men ‘of diverse parties,’ repeated with little modification the stock complaints of ‘lack of governance’ and ‘great impositions and inordinate charges’ which Warwick had so often joined in bringing against the Lancastrian regime (Warkworth, pp. 46–51).
The real grievance that the king had estranged the ‘great lords of his blood’ for the Wydevilles and other ‘seducious persones,’ mentioned by name, pervaded the whole document, which contained a threatening reminder of the fate of Edward II, Richard II, and Henry VI. It breathes the spirit of a Thomas of Lancaster or Richard of Gloucester. The authors of this thoroughly baronial document crossed to Sandwich on Sunday, 16 July, and, gathering forces among the friendly Kentishmen, hastened on to London, and then into the Midlands, to meet Robin of Redesdale and the Yorkshire insurgents who were in full march southwards, and had cut off Edward from the forces which the new Earls of Pembroke and Devon were bringing up from Wales. Warwick did not come up in time to assist the northerners in their battle with Pembroke at Edgecote, six miles north-east of Banbury, on 26 July; but the forces whose unexpected appearance crying ‘A Warwick, a Warwick!’ robbed the Welshmen of a victory may have been Warwick’s vanguard (Chron. of White Rose, p. 24; but cf. Hall, pp. 273–4, and Oman, p. 187). Warwick, who met the victors at Northampton, showed no mercy to the men who had ousted him from the king’s favour (Wavrin, p. 584). Pembroke and his brother were executed two days after the battle at Northampton [see Herbert, Sir William, d. 1469], and a fortnight later (12 Aug.) Rivers and his son, Sir John Wydeville, who had been taken in South Wales, were beheaded at Kenilworth (Warkworth, p. 7; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 183). The king was found, deserted by his followers, near Coventry by Archbishop Neville, and taken, first to Coventry, and then to the earl’s town of Warwick. But about the third week in August Warwick thought it prudent—perhaps influenced by news that London, at the instance of the Duke of Burgundy, had declared its loyalty to Edward (Wavrin, p. 586)—to remove his prisoner to his own family stronghold at Middleham, in Wensleydale (Ramsay, ii. 343). On 17 Aug. he was made to confer most of the offices Pembroke had held in South Wales upon the earl (Doyle).
But the Yorkshiremen outside Warwick’s own followers had risen to drive the Wydevilles from power, not to make the king captive. When the Lancastrians, eager to turn to their own profit a success they had helped to secure, sprang to arms on the Scottish marches under Sir Humphrey Neville [q. v.] of Brancepeth, a member of the elder branch of the family, Warwick could not raise the forces of Yorkshire until he had released Edward from constraint and accompanied him to York (Croyland Cont. pp. 551–2; Warkworth, p. 7; cf. State Papers, Venetian, i. 421). The king summoned forces with which Warwick suppressed the rising. Humphrey Neville and his brother Charles were beheaded at York on 29 Sept. in the presence of the king. Edward was now free to return to London. Archbishop Neville went with him as far as his house at the Moor in Hertfordshire; but his brother Montagu, who had not been prominent in the late events, was the only Neville who, for the present, was allowed to enter London. ‘The king,’ reported Sir John Paston, ‘hath good language of the Lords of Clarence and Warwick and of my Lord of York, saying they be his best friends; but his household men have other language’ (Paston Letters, ii. 390). Sir John Langstrother, whom Warwick had appointed, in August, as Rivers’s successor at the treasury, was replaced by William Gray, bishop of Ely. Warwick and Clarence, however, sought to explain away their late proceedings, and appeared in the November grand council when the king agreed to grant an amnesty. He gave Warwick no reason to suppose that he was harbouring revenge, and apparently did not suspect that the earl and Clarence were at the bottom of the new disturbances which broke out in Lincolnshire in February 1470 (Vitellius MS. in Ramsay, ii. 348). Clarence laid to rest any suspicions his brother may have entertained by a friendly visit to him before he started for Lincolnshire (6 March), followed two days later by a letter received on his march, offering to bring Warwick to his support (Rebellion in Lincolnshire, Camden Miscellany, pp. 6, 7, 8). The unsuspecting king actually authorised the men who were directing the movements of the rebels to raise troops in his name (Fœdera, xi. 652). The use that had been made of King Henry’s name no doubt contributed to his deception, but in London some mistrust of Warwick was expressed (Paston Letters, ii. 395). The earl, whose agents had been actively at work in Lincolnshire, on 7 March went down to Warwick, where he was presently joined by Clarence, and instructed Sir Robert Welles, the Lincolnshire leader, to avoid the king, who was marching in the direction of Stamford, and meet him at Leicester on 12 March (Rebellion in Lincolnshire, pp. 9, 10; Excerpta Historica, p. 284). Welles, however, anxious for the safety of his father, who was in Edward’s hands, gave battle to the king near Stamford.
The presence of men in Clarence’s livery among the rebels, and the cries of ‘A Warwick!’ and ‘A Clarence!’ began to rouse the king’s suspicions, and the day after his victory (13 March) he sent a message to them at Coventry to disband their forces, and to come to him at once (Rebellion in Lincolnshire, pp. 9, 10, 11). This they declined to do, and at once set off for Burton-on-Trent. The king pursued a parallel course to Grantham, where Welles was brought in, and, before execution, made a confession charging Clarence and Warwick with the instigation of the revolt (Excerpta Historica, pp. 283 seq.) Warwick’s intention, he said, was to make Clarence king. The trustworthiness of the confession, and of the official account of the rebellion printed in the ‘Camden Miscellany’ and copied by Wavrin, has recently been contested. Mr. Oman (p. 198) suggests the possibility that Edward was tempted by his success at Stamford to revenge himself upon the rebels of the previous year, and fastened upon them the responsibility for an insurrection with which they had nothing to do. The matter is obscure; but it should be noted that Warkworth, who was no friend to Edward, believed the revolt to have been the work of Warwick and Clarence. The two continued to advance northwards, by Burton and Chesterfield, towards Yorkshire, where Lord Scrope was moving in Richmondshire. They sent letters, which reached the king at Newark on 17 March, assuring him of their loyalty, and suggesting a meeting at Retford; but he sent garter king-of-arms to Chesterfield demanding their instant attendance. They refused to come without a safe-conduct and a pardon for all their party. By rapid marches Edward cut them off from Yorkshire, and on the 20th wheeled round against them. But they struck off westwards to Manchester, in the hope of support from Warwick’s brother-in-law, Lord Stanley (Rebellion in Lincolnshire, pp. 13–15; Paston Letters, ii. 395–6). They were disappointed, however, and fled southwards into Devonshire. The forces of the southern counties were called out, and on 31 March Warwick and Clarence were proclaimed traitors (Fœdera, xi. 755; Warkworth, notes, p. 56). The king gave them a long start, staying at York until 27 March to settle the north, and when he reached Exeter on 14 April they had already taken ship at Dartmouth (Croyland Cont. p. 553; Warkworth, p. 9). On their way up Channel to Calais they made a dash on a ship of Warwick’s lying at Southampton, but were beaten off with loss by Scales, now Earl Rivers (ib.) Presently Warwick appeared before Calais, and demanded admission from his lieutenant, Wenlock, with whom were a number of his personal followers. The Duchess of Clarence was delivered of a daughter as they lay at anchor. But Wenlock, who was not prepared to run risks for Warwick, privately advised him to take refuge in France for the present, the captain and merchants of the town being all for Edward and the Burgundian connection, and fired on him from the castle (Commines, i. 235–237; Wavrin, p. 604; Chastellain, v. 488). Sailing off from Calais, Warwick captured several merchantmen, some of which were Burgundian, and, if Wavrin may be credited, threw their crews into the sea, and on 5 May (6 May, according to Wavrin, v. 604) put into Honfleur. Duke Charles at once protested against Warwick’s reception as a breach of the treaty he had made with Louis in the previous October. But Warwick would not relieve Louis from his embarrassment by removal to the Channel Islands, and the king, who could not afford to lose so valuable an ally, decided to brave Charles the Bold’s wrath, and sent the Bastard of Bourbon to protect Warwick against the large Burgundian fleet which now entered the Seine (Commines, i. 238; cf. Wavrin, v. 604; Ramsay, ii. 354).
Louis and Warwick now settled on a plan for driving their common enemy King Edward from his throne and for restoring Henry VI. Foreign observers were staggered by the cynicism of this crowning illustration of the demoralisation of the English nobility in the civil strife (Chastellain, v. 467). Queen Margaret at first indignantly refused to accept the support of the man who had driven her into exile and thrown foul aspersions on her good name, or to marry her son to the daughter of one who had stigmatised him as a bastard (ib. p. 464). Louis took Warwick to Angers to meet her about the middle of July, but it was only on the strongest pressure from Louis and her Angevin advisers, and after Warwick had withdrawn his imputations on his knees, where she kept him, according to one account (ib. p. 468), for a quarter of an hour, that she gave way (Ellis, Letters, 2nd ser. ii. 132). She stipulated that the marriage of her son and Anne Neville should not be completed until Warwick had gone over and conquered most part of England for King Henry. In the church of St. Marie, Warwick, who had broken so many solemn oaths, swore on a piece of the true cross to remain faithful to the Lancastrian dynasty (ib.) In accordance with a promise made on the same occasion, Louis fitted out a small expedition, and Warwick, favoured by a storm which dispersed the Burgundian fleet, safely crossed with it to Dartmouth and Plymouth, landing on 13 Sept. with Clarence, Jasper Tudor, and the Earl of Oxford (Fabyan, p. 658). In the manifesto which he had sent over before him, Warwick had been studiously vague as to his intentions, lest the guidance of the movement should pass out of his hands (Warkworth, p. 60). But once in England, he proclaimed Henry VI, and advanced on London. Edward, who had foolishly allowed himself to be drawn into the north by a rising got up for the purpose by Warwick’s brother-in-law, Lord Fitzhugh, was deserted by Montagu, and had to fly to the Netherlands.
Warwick did not enter London until 6 Oct., three days after Edward had sailed from Lynn. The merchants of the city, being heavy creditors of Edward and trading chiefly with the Low countries, were unfriendly, and Warwick waited until Sir Geoffrey Gate and other followers of his own had stirred up the mob, and even opened the prisons (Fabyan, p. 659). The men of the Cinque ports rose at the call of their old warden, and a mob of Kentishmen pillaged the eastern suburbs of London, attacking Flemings and beerhouses (Green, Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, i. 415). Warwick, who was accompanied by his brother the archbishop, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Lord Stanley, removed King Henry from the Tower to the Bishop of London’s palace, and a week later bore his train in a state procession to Westminster. New ministers were appointed, the archbishop once more becoming chancellor, and Clarence lieutenant of Ireland. As soon as Edward’s flight was known at Calais, Wenlock and most of the inhabitants cast off the white rose and mounted the ragged staff (Commines, i. 254; Chastellain, v. 488). Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, who had horrified the people by impaling Warwick’s crews whom he captured at Southampton in May, was executed on 18 Oct. The parliament which met on 26 Nov. confirmed the Angers concordat, and appointed Warwick and Clarence joint lieutenants of the realm (Polydore Vergil, p. 521; but cf. Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 1). But Warwick’s position was a very anxious one. Clarence was looking backward, and the Lancastrians themselves had naturally no enthusiasm for government by their old enemy in the name of the poor shadow of a king. In February he went down to Dover, eagerly looking for the arrival of the queen and her son, but, wind-bound or waiting on events, they delayed to come (Fabyan, p. 660). When Louis drew the new government into open war with Burgundy and attacked the Somme towns, promising Warwick Holland and Zealand as his share, the English merchants interested in the Flemish trade took alarm (Wavrin, ed. Dupont, iii. 196; ib. ed. Hardy, v. 608, 613). Warwick only maintained his position in London by the support of the masses, and by severe repression of adverse opinion (Fabyan, p. 660; Chastellain, v. 489, 499; Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 2).
Charles the Bold, too, as soon as he realised that the foreign policy of the new government in England was entirely directed by Louis XI, launched the exiled Edward IV, in March 1471, back upon its shores. Warwick was not caught unprepared, as Edward had been the previous summer. He had provided for the defence of all the coasts, retaining a general superintendence for himself as admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine (Fœdera, pp. 676–80). Edward was thus prevented from landing in Norfolk, and but for the timid, if not treacherous, conduct of Montagu, to whom his brother had entrusted the defence of the north coast, might never have gained a footing in Yorkshire [see under Neville, John, Marquis of Montagu]. The news that Edward had slipped past Montagu greatly angered Warwick, who at once set out northwards, and from Warwick on the 25th sent a summons to Henry Vernon of Haddon Hall to join him at Coventry against ‘the man Edward,’ with an urgent postscript in his own hand, ‘Henry, I praye you ffayle me not now, as ever I may do ffor yow’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. pt. iv. vol. i. pp. 3, 4). He advanced to Leicester; but on hearing that Oxford’s force from the eastern counties had failed to arrest Edward’s progress through Nottinghamshire, and that he was moving on Leicester with rapidly increasing numbers, the earl on the 27th fell back upon Coventry, and stood at bay behind its walls, waiting for the forces which Clarence and Somerset were raising in the southern midlands (Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 8; Warkworth, p. 14; Commines, iii. 282). On 29 March Edward appeared before Coventry and invited him to a pitched battle (Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 9; cf. Wavrin, v. 650). The earl declining to come out, Edward went on to Warwick, and, knowing that Clarence was bringing over to him the forces he had raised for Henry VI, had himself proclaimed king. Warwick, who must have suspected Clarence’s treason, sought to come to some arrangement with Edward, but was offered a bare promise of his life. He was now joined by Montagu and Oxford, but Clarence had taken over his forces to Edward, and Warwick clearly feared Edward’s superiority in the field. After again vainly offering battle, the king set off for London (Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 13), which the earl, who followed, allowed him to reach without molestation at midday on Thursday, 11 April. Warwick is said to have hoped that London would have shut Edward out, or, if not, that he would have kept Easter, and so enabled Warwick to take him by surprise. But Edward’s friends had already got the upper hand in the city, and, acting with the decisive rapidity of which he was capable at crises, he marched out to Chipping Barnet on Saturday afternoon, 12 March, and reached it about nightfall. Warwick, who had by this time recognised that a battle was inevitable, had advanced in the course of the day from St. Albans to Gladsmuir Heath, or, as it is now called, Hadley Green, just to the north of Barnet. Here he drew up his forces ‘under a hedge-side,’ about half a mile out of Barnet, along the road to Hatfield, from which the ground slopes down both to west and east. In this position he commanded the narrow entrance to the town, from which he calculated the royal forces must emerge. But again, as at St. Albans, his calculations were at fault. Edward was too wily a strategist to be caught in a trap, and, after driving Warwick’s advance-guard out of the town, he moved his army under cover of the darkness to the slope of Enfield Chase, just east of and parallel to Warwick’s line. Warwick, discovering the movement, though he could not see the enemy, opened fire on their supposed position; but the two armies were much nearer than either supposed, and the ‘earl’s guns overshot the king’s host’ (Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 18). At dawn on Easter Sunday, 14 April, the two armies closed with each other in a mist so thick (the superstitious ascribed it to the incantations of Friar Bungay) that Warwick’s line outflanked the king’s on its right, and was itself outflanked on the left. Edward’s left was driven off the field by the Earl of Oxford, while Gloucester turned Warwick’s left (ib. p. 19). The centres, from whom the fortunes of the wings were hidden by the mist, fought desperately for three hours, but at last Warwick’s men gave way, Montagu was slain, and Warwick leapt on horseback and fled to a neighbouring wood, but he was pursued and slain (Warkworth, p. 16). The bodies of the two Nevilles were carried to London and, by the king’s orders, exposed, ‘open and naked,’ for two days in St. Paul’s, lest rumour should be spread abroad that his powerful opponent was still alive (Arrivall of Edward IV, p. 21). They were then transferred to Bisham Abbey, in Berkshire, the ancient burial-place of the Montagus, which was destroyed at the dissolution of the monasteries (Gough, Sepulchral Monuments, ii. 223).
Warwick had some of the qualities that make a great ruler of men. He stands out as a living figure among the shadows who strove and fell in that dreary time of civil strife. But he was neither a great constitutional statesman nor a great general. The military reputation he had won when dash and energy alone were needed he failed to maintain when he was thrown upon his own resources and strategy was called for. His signal mismanagement of the second battle of St. Albans justified Edward IV’s contempt for his military abilities, a contempt which led him to treat Warwick as an opponent too lightly. The earl’s personal abstention from this battle may have given currency to imputations upon his personal courage which were exaggerated by the unfriendly Burgundian chroniclers Chastellain (v. 486) and Commines (i. 260). They openly accuse him of cowardice, Commines asserting that he always fought on horseback to secure a safe retreat. If he was not a butcher like Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, he rarely spared his enemies when they fell into his hands. Of Worcester’s love of learning there is no trace in Warwick, and beyond joining his brother George Neville, then bishop of Exeter, in founding in 1460 St. William’s College, opposite the east end of York Minster, we do not hear of his devoting any part of his great wealth to public purposes. Warwick was in no way superior to the prejudices and ambitions of his class, and devoted himself with single aim to the acquisition of power for himself and his family. His popularity did not essentially differ from that enjoyed by other great nobles before him who had made use of the reform cry against weak and unpopular royal ministers to secure control of the crown for themselves. Hume’s appellation of ‘last of the barons’ is not wholly inapplicable to the last representative of the class of great nobles in opposition to the crown—a class to which Thomas of Lancaster and Richard of Gloucester had belonged. Warwick enjoyed the advantages of a popular bearing, and of vast wealth spent in lavish hospitality; he had, too, touched the imagination of the nation by some slight successes when the nation’s fortunes abroad had sunk to their lowest ebb. These advantages, united with singular energy, knowledge of men, and a genuine diplomatic talent, and favoured by opportunity, enabled him to grasp and utilise a power which was almost royal. The extraordinary impression that such a career made upon his own contemporaries is not surprising, and the dramatic story of his fall has retained a perennial interest. The unwavering support of the Nevilles, and of the Nevilles alone among the great magnates, had placed the Yorkist king on the throne and justified Warwick’s title of ‘kingmaker.’ This title does not seem traceable in our authorities further back than the Latin history of Scotland of John Major (1469–1550) [q. v.], who calls Warwick ‘regum creator,’ and it is not used by any of the sixteenth-century English historians (Major, De Gestis Scotorum, p. 330, apud Ramsay, ii. 374; cf. D’Escouchy, ed. Beaucourt, i. 294). But Commines (ii. 280) had already expressed the fact—‘à la verité dire le [Edward] feit roy.’ Edward, however, presently declined to play the part of roy fainéant to Warwick’s mayor of the palace, and, in order to retain his power, the earl did not refrain from plunging his country once more into civil war and joining hands with those he had pursued with inveterate hostility.
For Warwick’s personal appearance there is no authority but Polydore Vergil’s vague mention of ‘animi altitudo cum paribus corporis viribus.’ Nothing can be built upon the figure representing Warwick with the Neville bull at his feet in John Rous’s ‘Roll of the Earls of Warwick’ (now in the Duke of Manchester’s collection), although Rous died as early as 1496. This figure is reproduced in Mr. Oman’s ‘Warwick,’ and in the illustrated edition of Green’s ‘Short History.’ The portrait given by Rowland, and copied by Swallow, is a work of imagination. Warwick’s fine seal, picked up on Barnet field and now in the British Museum, is figured by Swallow (p. 326).
Among the commemorations of Warwick in literature may be mentioned the well-known portrait in ‘King Henry VI,’ doubtfully ascribed to Shakespeare, and a tragedy by La Harpe, which was the basis of two adaptations published in 1766–7, one by T. Francklin and the other by P. Hifferman. Lord Lytton’s historical romance, ‘The Last of the Barons’ (1843), is based upon such authorities as were accessible to him, but he speaks of Saxons and Normans in the fifteenth century, and makes the final breach between the king and the earl turn upon an outrage upon the honour of Warwick’s family by the profligate king, which has only such authority as Polydore Vergil and Hall can give it. Warwick’s lands were in 1474 divided between the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester, the husbands of his two daughters Isabel (1451–1476) and Anne (1454–1485), Clarence taking the Beauchamp and Despenser, and Gloucester the Neville and Montagu, estates (Ramsay, ii. 399; Archæologia, xlvii. 409–27). The lands being thus brought by marriage into the possession of the royal house, an attainder of Warwick was dispensed with. The rights of the Countess of Warwick, the earl’s widow, in the Beauchamp and Despenser estates were ignored. They were restored to her by act of parliament in 1487, but only that she might reconvey them to the crown. She is supposed to have died about 1490 (Nicolas, Historic Peerage).
[There are two separate biographies of Warwick: (1) History of the Earl of Warwick, surnamed the King Maker, London, 1708; and (2) Oman’s Warwick the Kingmaker (1891) in the ‘English Men of Action’ series, a picturesque but rather too enthusiastic estimate. Memoirs also figure in Edmondson’s Historical and Genealogical Account of the Family of Greville, including the History and Succession of the Earls of Warwick since the Norman Conquest; Rowland’s Historical and Genealogical Account of the Family of Nevill, particularly of the House of Abergavenny, with some Account of the … Beauchamps, London, 1830; and Swallow’s De Nova Villa, or the House of Neville in Sunshine and Shade, Newcastle, 1885. For an unduly depreciatory view of Warwick see Mrs. Green’s English Town Life in the Fifteenth Century (1894), i. 257; and for better balanced judgments Stubbs’s Constitutional History, iii. 212 (an admirable appreciation), and Sir James Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, ii. 273. For the original authorities see under Neville, John, Marquis of Montagu.]
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40
Neville, Richard (1428-1471) by James Tait