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Edward of Westminster, also known as Edward of Lancaster (13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471), was the only son of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesburymarker, making him the only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle.

Early life

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminstermarker, Londonmarker, the only son of King Henry VI of England and his consort, Margaret of Anjou. At the time, there was strife between Henry's supporters, and Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, who had a claim to the throne and challenged the authority of Henry's officers of state. Henry was suffering from mental illness, and there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and one of her loyal supporters. Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset and James Butler, Earl of Wiltshire were both suspected of fathering Prince Edward, however, there is no firm evidence to support the rumours, and Henry himself never doubted the boy's legitimacy and publicly acknowledged paternity. Edward was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castlemarker in 1454.

War for the rule of England

In 1460, King Henry was captured by the supporters of the Duke of York at the Battle of Northampton, and carried to London. The Duke of York was dissuaded from claiming the throne immediately, but he induced Parliament to pass the Act of Accord, by which Henry was allowed to reign, but Edward was disinherited, as York or his heirs would become King on Henry's death.

Queen Margaret and Edward had meanwhile fled through Cheshiremarker. By Margaret's later account, she induced outlaws and pillagers to aid her by pledging them to recognise the seven-year-old Edward as rightful heir to the crown. They subsequently reached safety in Walesmarker, and journeyed to Scotlandmarker where Margaret raised support, while the Duke of York's enemies gathered in the north of England.

After York was killed at the Battle of Wakefieldmarker, the large army which Margaret had gathered advanced south. They defeated the army of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of York's most prominent supporters, at the Second Battle of St Albansmarker. Warwick had brought the captive King Henry in the train of his army, and he was found abandoned on the battlefield. Two of Warwick's knights, William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville and Sir Thomas Kyriell, who had agreed to remain with Henry and see that he came to no harm, were captured. The day after the battle, Margaret asked Edward what death the two knights should suffer. Edward readily replied that their heads should be cut off.

Exile in France

Margaret hesitated to advance on London with her unruly army, and subsequently retreated. They were routed at the Battle of Towtonmarker a few weeks later. Margaret and Edward fled once again, to Scotlandmarker. For the next three years, Margaret inspired several revolts in the northernmost counties of England, but was eventually forced to sail to France, where she and Edward maintained a court in exile. (Henry had once again been captured, and was a prisoner in the Tower of Londonmarker.)

In 1467 the ambassador of the Duchy of Milanmarker to the court of France wrote that Edward "already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne."

After several years in exile, Margaret took the best opportunity that presented itself, and allied herself with the renegade Earl of Warwick, and Prince Edward was married off to Anne Neville, Warwick's younger daughter, in December 1470 - although there is some doubt as to whether the marriage was ever solemnised.

Battle between Lancaster & York

Warwick succeeded in putting King Henry VI back on the throne. However, by the time Margaret, and her son and daughter-in-law, arrived in Englandmarker, Warwick had been defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnetmarker and York's son Edward IV was back on the throne. With little real hope of success, the inexperienced prince and his mother led the remnant of their forces at the Battle of Tewkesburymarker, where Edward was killed in battle (possibly executed, see below); Edward's body is buried at Tewkesbury Abbeymarker. His widow, Anne Neville, married Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded as Richard III in 1483.

Execution or death in Battle

According to some accounts, shortly after the rout of Lancastrians at Tewkesbury, a small contingent of men under the Duke of Clarence found the grieving prince near a grove where he was immediately beheaded on a makeshift block, despite his pleas.

Alliances and aftermath

Ironically, just months earlier, Clarence was allied with Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and the Earl of Warwick in promoting discontent in the eyes of Edward IV. Edward IV recalled Clarence, only to have him fight with the vanguard of the Yorkists at Tewkesbury, where killing the Prince of Wales would once again secure him in the heart of his brother. Later, however, Clarence would again defy his brother, eventually being executed privately in the Tower.

Ancestry




Notes

References

  • R. A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI (1981), especially the Epilogue


External links

  • Richard III Society: http://www.r3.org/basics/basic3.html
  • Oxford Journals: http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/citation/s6-V/114/176-i





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