The Sons in Splendor Vol I: House of the Rising Sons

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On the 9th of April 1483, one of the most underrated Kings in English History, Edward IV died. A military man, flower of Chivalry and reformer of Kingship, Edward unexpectedly died at the age of 40; leaving behind a muddled legacy, a questionable succession and precarious foreign relations. A chaotic usurpation by his brother Richard of Gloucester and the collapse of the Yorkist dynasty would follow within two years.

But what if Edward survived? The nervous and sparse years of Henry VII of the house of Tudor fall away and are replaced with the vibrant, outward-looking and energetic rule of Edward IV’s later years and those of his son and grandsons. The ripples could be massive, in the old world and the new, in the political and the spiritual sphere. This timeline will cover the main events of 1483-1496 including narrative and historiography.

Prelude: The Passover 10th April 1483 Windsor Castle

William, Lord Hastings, hurried through the outer courtyard of Windsor Castle. The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year and the sun beamed down through the battlements. It matched Hastings’ mood, he thought to himself as he passed into the Chapel cloister. The King was still alive. The last week had seen Edward grow weaker and weaker, to the point that his will had even been altered to reflect his untimely end, but now Hastings had received word that the fever had broken and Edward was slowly recovering. This news spurred him on even quicker as he neared the royal chambers, with his servant trailing in his wake.

Out of the light and into the cool gloom of the great staircase. Hastings hurried upwards to meet his King, and groaned as he neared the bedchamber. The Woodvilles – they really did get everywhere didn’t they? Bishop Salisbury was talking to his nephew Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, outside the royal chamber, a number of other hangers-on and a pair of Royal guards making for a crowded landing. Hastings gave an inward sigh; like a persistent weed the Woodvilles had gotten everywhere in the 20 or so years since Elizabeth had turned the King’s head, it was no surprise to see them here, but why these two? Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury, saw Hastings approach and his relaxed air changed to an annoyed smirk to a more professional welcome; ‘my Lord Hastings, such joy to see you and on an auspicious morning as this!’

‘Bishop, ‘tiz well met to see you too, the King is well I take it?’ Hastings had little interest in exchanging pleasantries with the man.

‘He is on the mend, God be praised, the Queen is with him just this moment, he is taking some food, I would wait out here if I were you.’

‘Hm’ Hastings murmured ‘I was summonsed immediately, the King requested my presence urgently, I see you were less required my Lord?’

‘We’re here for my mother’ Sneered Dorset, who had remained silent to this point. ‘Your absence was noted Hastings, as has your eagerness to run to the King’s side now.’

‘Well I bid you both good morning gentlemen’ Said Hastings, ignoring the barbed comment from the young up-start. Thomas Grey was a small runt promoted well above his station and Hastings had learned it was pointless engaging with him either. Edward had called them to his bed a week ago and ordered them both to reconcile their differences; both men had reluctantly agreed but Hastings was now relieved that Edward’s recovery had allowed their spat to continue.

Hastings threaded his way between the preening Woodvilles and approached Rook, one of the King’s stewards standing by the door. ‘My Lord Hastings, it is good to see you’ the man said.

‘And you Rook’ replied Hastings ‘He will see me?’

‘Of course my Lord’ Rook responded loudly, with a gleeful glance at the two Woodvilles standing behind Hastings. ‘I was given strict instructions to allow you entry.’

Hastings entered; this room even darker than the previous one. The curtains were pulled tight and the air smelt of bitter herbs, light emitting from the roaring fireplace and a brace of candles beyond the bed. On the far side of the bed sat Queen Elizabeth, her hair tied up, her eyes dark and her face strained, although she still managed a smile when Hastings entered. A maid was leaning over the bed, her back to the door, and Hastings had to manoeuvre around her to see she had a bowl of broth and spoon in hand. In front of her, lying in bed, propped up by a few pillows, his face grey to match the ageing tufts in his otherwise fair beard was the King of England. Edward IV, King of England and France, Lord of Wales and Ireland, Earl of March and the shining light of the Yorkist dynasty, but most of all Hastings’ friend, he was glad to see him well.

‘Ah William’ said Edward as he glanced up from his meal ‘Enough woman, away with you’ this time to the maid.

‘We’re so glad you could come William’ said the Queen rising to greet him, with all the airs and graces you could expect from a Queen of almost 20 years.

‘So am I, your grace, it is good to see you better sire.’ Hastings had been three days earlier and Edward had been even more pale then, his eyes sunken, his breathing laboured, and there certainly had been no broth. Hastings had believed it to be the last time he would see his friend, and he had been wrong, thank God.

Edward turned to his wife ‘Elizabeth would you give us a moment? The Lord Chamberlain and I have some matters to discuss.’ For a moment it looked as if Elizabeth Woodville was about to protest that her husband not discuss affairs of state with death so recently having passed over him, but she thought better of it and with a kiss on his cheek and a nod to William she left the room.

And then they were alone. ‘Do sit’ said the King indicating the chair which Elizabeth had vacated. Hastings sat, turning the chair slightly to see the King.

There was a long pause, as if Edward was unsure of what to say next. Yet this was not illness or malaise, he was calculating, thinking, Hastings had seen that look many times before, the King was back alright, even if he wasn’t quite his old strength. At length he gave a small outward breath. ‘How are things?’

Hastings was slightly wrong-footed by the mundane question. ‘All is well sire, I summoned your brother as you requested, he indicated that he would arrive some time before the end of the month. The Calais garrison and the city guard are at full strength. The Exchequer is humming along nicely. Richard tells me the northern border is quiet and word from the continent is that the French are not taking any action in your absence. I have brought some papers for your chambers’ attention, mostly accounts I’m sure you would rather avoid them.’

‘No that is fine, thank you William.’ Replied the King, who again resumed his awkward, brooding silence. After a few more minutes, he turned and looked William Hastings in the eye. ‘A miracle eh? My recovery? The doctors gave me up for dead, we even had Dean Robert on stand-by, and yet here I am.’ Edward gave a relaxed motion with his arms indicating the bed and its magnificent coverings. ‘Would almost make you believe in the almighty eh?’ he said with a wry smile. It was not common knowledge but Hastings knew Edward intimately enough to be aware that he was not one for the works of the almighty, and especially not the rituals of his acolytes, preferring to rest his faith in ‘a good piece of English steel by my side and Milanese plate on my back’. However now Edward seemed almost open to the idea of divine intervention.

And then he came out with it. ‘I had a vision William’ the King said rather matter of fact. ‘Whilst I was under, it was him, St Peter.’ Lord Hastings could hardly believe his ears but now the King’s almost paradoxical vim and vigour was beginning to make sense. ‘I saw him’ The King continued, almost embarrassed ‘and he gave me a message.’ The King leaned forward now fixing Hastings’ eyes with his ‘You have a second chance Edward of March, a second chance for your dynasty, a second chance to put your house in order. The almighty does not claim you yet. His Angel is passing over you. You have a second chance.’

Then he leaned back, Hastings sat patiently, Edward again seemed lost in thought, the room tense. The King gave a small groan and leaned to one side, Hastings believed another attack of pain was coming on. An almighty fart rumbled throughout the bedchamber. ‘Ha!’ yelled the King his face pained and giddy at the same time, ‘that was a good one!’ He gave a full belly laugh, as he had in days of old, when he was much leaner and fitter. At length Edward IV settled and again transfixed his friend with those blue eyes of his. ‘It’s true William. On my fathers’ bones I know it to be true.’

‘I have a second chance, God does not want me yet, I have a second chance. And I’ve had time to think. I would have made a right mess going off just now.’ Edward continued to talk freely and honestly. ‘Edward is not ready to be King, France and Burgundy are in turmoil, and despite my best efforts my wife’s family is still loathed by most of the realm. The house is unfinished William. And St Peter has sent me back to finish the job. What do you think?’

Hastings was dumbfounded, King Edward IV finding religion and divine direction was about as likely as an Irishman gambling fair or a Scotsman breaking a smile. But he had never seen him like this before, despite his physical weakness his eyes and brain were as sharp as ever and he clearly believed what he had seen. ‘My King what would you have me do?’ Hastings eventually responded.

‘Now that’s the spirit.’ Replied King Edward with a smile. ‘Summon Parliament, with my authority, Westminster, 4 weeks from now. Send word to Richard to see me as soon as he arrives in London, I have a job for him. And summon Rivers and my sons from Ludlow. In fact issue summons to all Lords of the realm, I want them all here for this one. I leave the preparations to you William, arrange lodging and food for as many as you can. And I want you back here in three days our work has just begun.’

‘What work would that be my Lord?

‘William my friend, we are going to finish building the house, I am going to leave this family in a better state than which I found it, and I am going to ensure that the name York is remembered for a thousand years.’

Chapter 1: 1483 Out of the ashes

‘Edward IV: the later years’ Richard Partington in English Historical Review 2005

The King’s recovery around Easter of 1483 was as miraculous as it was welcomed across the realm. With the Lancastrian threat of Henry Tudor not quite snuffed out, Edward’s foreign policy aimless and in tatters, the Woodville family as problematic as ever and the succession not entirely secured Edward’s return to relative health by May was a huge relief for all concerned.

The reinvigorated King spent a summer patching up these shortcomings in his Kingdom. A Parliament was called and assembled by the 7th of May with Richard Ratcliffe as speaker. The King addressed Parliament himself for the first time in over two years and he laid out a broad sweep of legislation designed to strengthen his rule and his succession.

New investitures were made with Edward’s nephew Edward of Middleham being made Constable of Corfe and Lord Dorchester. This supplemented the King’s own son Edward who was given a large share of lands in the south-west adjoining his cousins but also most crucially those of Dorset and Hastings to act as a barrier between further conflict. In Wales Edward sought to balance the power of the Woodvilles by removing Rivers from the Prince of Wales’ Council and handing some of his southern estates to Herbert and Buckingham whilst his lordship in Mold was given to Thomas, Lord Stanley. Rivers was placated with his long-coveted prize of the Captaincy of Calais, a role which gave him prominence on the continent.

But Edward saved his greatest prizes for his two most trust-worthy of companions. Hastings was given the title Constable and Marshall of England, a new role which Edward made clear held responsibility for the defence of the realm and also the primary ambassador with foreign powers. In this role Hastings was immediately dispatched to first Brittany and then Burgundy to strengthen England’s ties there.

Richard of Gloucester became Lord Protector. This was an astonishing move as the King was not in his minority or infirm. Edward used a new legal treatise he had prepared ‘Sommnium Vigilantis’ as basis for his decision. The text stated that the defence of the realm was of such paramount importance, and the contemporary roles of a monarch ever expanding, that eternal vigilance was required and not least great assistance. Gloucester was removed as Warden of the north and replaced by Thomas Stanley and William Catesby in the west and east March respectively. These two men would have chairs on the Council of the North which would be arbitrated by the newly installed Bishop of Durham John Fox.

Gloucester’s role as Lord Protector essentially made him second in England only to the King, whilst Hastings focused on external defence and diplomacy the Lord Protector’s new job was to uphold law and order and the collection of taxes in England itself. Gloucester could not summon Parliament or demand taxation, but he was free to implement any other measures necessary for the defence of the realm including leading judicial tours and mustering yeomanry when needed. It is possible that this was Edward simply rewarding his supremely loyal brother but the timing suggests that Edward was in fact trying a new form of governance; a New Monarchy where supreme power was held by the monarch but delegated to extremely close and trusted nobility. Of course it would also ensure good continuity of government during Edward’s ongoing recovery.

The final icing on the cake was Gloucester’s wardship of the Prince of Wales. Twelve year-old Prince Edward had spent the earlier years of his life in Ludlow with his uncle Rivers learning all the ways of a chivalrous gentleman. Yet his proximity to the Woodville family had caused rumblings of fear during Edward’s illness, and the Prince’s move to London with his Uncle, and the occasional trip with Hastings, was surely deemed necessary to make him into the powerful modern monarch he was destined to be.

These changes may have been unprecedented, but such was the outpouring of goodwill for the King’s recovery that it seems they passed almost without a hitch. The observer Dominic Mancini comments that ‘It astounds me how much his people love him, that his every will be granted in an instant.’ This flurry of activity was capped with the 1483 Ordinance of Accounts and the later Ordinance of Justices in which Edward ordered a review of all the household and exchequer accounts in order to make further savings and a judicial tour of the outlying shires led by Lord Howard and Lord Scales. Such was the feeling of goodwill that Edward was granted a £20,000 tax collected over three years ‘for the maintenance and upkeep of his majesty’s fortresses’ and a further £10,000 in benevolences. In exchange Edward removed all duties on the flourishing book trade and pledged to build a new abbey to St Cornelius at Sandal in Yorkshire.

The Redemption Parliament of May to August 1483, as it became known, was perhaps one of the most accomplished that England had seen in an age. In the space of a few months Edward IV had turned his faltering reign around and with a recently uncharacteristic burst of energy had sought to repair much of the damage from his own neglect over the previous ten years. Gillingham has suggested that this was a mere ‘papering over the cracks’ as the Buckingham and Remnant Rebellions would lay bare in the next few years yet McFarlane remains the final authority in this regard when he states that ‘the Parliament laid nothing short of the foundations of the Yorkist Golden Age.’

‘The life of William, Lord Hastings’ John Watts 1994

The Redemption Parliament threw Lord Hastings into a new chapter of his life. As the newly inaugurated Constable and Marshall of England, Edward charged Hastings with securing England’s alliances across the channel. That Edward himself had neglected such matters in favour of feasting and the naïve and pointless French truce of Picquiny was forgotten.

Hastings’ first port of call was to Brittany. It helped that his arrival came at a good time for the Yorkist dynasty. Henry Tudor, long time exile and ‘last imp’ of the Lancastrian claim had finally accepted a deal to return to England in exchange for an oath of fealty to Edward IV and partial restoration to his earldom of Richmond. Hastings not only took Tudors’ oath as proxy but also confirmed on him the grants of land which the Redemption Parliament had promised. To Tudor’s uncle Jasper, Hastings brought grants of land in Cheshire and Lincolnshire under the title of Lord Moreton.

Yet the Tudors were just a side-show. Hastings met with Duke Francis, who was at the time locked in a struggle with Louis XI for control of his Duchy. By October 1483, with news of Louis’ death having reached Brittany, Hastings and Duke Francis agreed the Treaty of Pontivy. The Treaty finalised a marriage alliance between Francis’ heir Anne of Brittany and Prince Edward, with the Treaty stipulating that Brittany would go to their second son. More importantly for Brittany a free company of English soldiers was to be sent for the Duchy’s defence in exchange for Breton sanctuary for English ships. It is also assumed that Francis gave his tacit support to a more overtly anti-French alliance given the events at Hastings’ next port of call; Burgundy.

By the autumn of 1483 the Anglo-Burgundian situation had become more complicated. A long term feeling of goodwill, culminating in Yorkist sanctuary in Burgundy during the Readeption of 1470-1, had waned thanks to the Treaty of Picquiny. The Burgundian nobility, although still influenced by Edward’s sister Margaret, had become increasingly difficult to convince of the value of an English alliance and in December 1482 they had agreed to the Treaty of Arras; Margaret of Austria, infant heiress to Burgundy, would marry the Dauphin Charles, ties with England were cut and the county of Artois adjoining Calais was to be passed to the French. However with renewed vigour from across the channel and the new king unsettled on the French throne, the Burgundians changed their minds. De facto ruler of Burgundy, Maximillian of Austria, saw his moment to strike and secure his borders more firmly.

In the early months of 1484 the Treaty of Ypern was agreed. Maximillian repudiated the Treaty of Arras on a technicality (the deal was predicated on Margaret marrying the Dauphin, not the new King and so was null and void) and instead pledged his daughter’s hand to Prince Richard of England, then just 10 years old. The treaty also included a cut in English duties on wool exports, a standing force of 1000 men at Calais to assist in Burgundy’s defence and a £3,000 bond to be paid to Burgundy if this deal was broken. It has been possible to deduce, with the benefit of hindsight, that this Treaty also established the groundwork for the later Treaty of Calais and the triumvirate alliance against France given the total pivot and commitment towards Burgundy which the Treaty of Ypern demonstrated.

The End of the House of Lancaster RL Storey 2001

The final genuine claim of the Lancastrian dynasty ended at Christmas 1483. As Henry Tudor ‘the last scraping of the Lancastrian barrel’ (Carpenter) returned to England. The House of Lancaster did not end in blood as it could have so easily done, but in a solemn ceremony and a raucous feast. Henry Tudor rode immediately to London with his uncle Jasper, companion for so many years in exile, and escorted by Lords Lovell and Scrope and the Earl of Shrewsbury, men with a Lancastrian leaning but ones who had proven themselves to the Yorkist cause.

At Westminster Abbey, on Christmas day, Henry and Jasper Tudor bowed before their King Edward and swore an oath of fealty and allegiance to him and were pardoned for their treason in turn. The climax of the ceremony was the unpinning of a broach from Henry Tudor’s cloak; the red rose, which he threw at King Edward’s feet and replaced it with the Son in Splendour of the House of York and the Portcullis of his mothers’ Beaufort house. Henry Tudor was no longer a Lancastrian heir, he was just Henry Tudor, restored to the Earldom of Richmond.

Edward was magnanimous as he had been in the past; Richmond came with an almost total restoration of its lands, although some had been passed to William Catesby the new warden of the East March and newly made Lord Malham. For Jasper Tudor he was less lucky, his lands had been swept into the various marcher lordships and Edward adjudged that he wasn’t trustworthy enough to return to his native south Wales, instead he was granted lands in Cheshire and Flintshire with a few estates in Lincolnshire and the title Lord Moreton. Yet Edward was not naive; both Tudor Lords were bound to a bond with the crown and what is more with Lord Stanley, now Earl Derby, Henry’s stepfather who was made ultimately responsible for their good behaviour.

The Lancastrian cause had been snuffed out, but a smouldering flicker still remained as time would tell.
Chapter 2: 1484 The foundations hold

‘The Wars of the Roses 1450-1491’ C Carpenter 2004

Many have debated at which point the Renaissance came to England, some have suggested the arrival of Macchiavelli in 1512, or the extensive work of Erasmus of Rotterdam and other Humanist scholars in the early 16th century. Either way the influence of King Edward V (1487-?) is seen to be the main instigator for the flourishing academic, artistic and intellectual scene to rival northern Italy itself.

Yet all of these interpretations miss the work done by Edward IV in his later years to establish an open and discursive intellectual community which came to be centred on his close relationship with the pioneering printer and writer William Caxton. Edward was of course not a stranger to the publishing world; his reign in the 1470s seeing the publication of his own Chivalric primer ‘The Black Book’ and his patronage of Fortescue’s ‘De Laudibus Legum Angliae’ but his exemption of duties on books at the Redemption Parliament seems to have advanced his efforts exponentially. In the remaining four years of his life, troubled by illness though it was, Edward was able to throw more effort into reading and writing. Edward also ensured that his sons acquired these skills as Dominic Mancini’s appointment as tutor to the Prince of Wales in the autumn of 1483 demonstrate. However there was no greater influence over the King in these later years than William Caxton.

Caxton had established a printing press at Westminster in 1476 and published a number of works in English including collaborating with the Earl Rivers. However it seems that Caxton first met Edward IV in the early months of 1484, possibly encouraged by Rivers’ himself or the King’s declaration at the Redemption Parliament in the previous year. The impact seems to have been immediate; translations of Aesop’s Fables and the Book of the Knight in the Tower (one of the first instances of sections of the Bible printed in English) both printed in 1484 bear tributes to ‘my Lord and patron, King Edward’ and in one printing referring to him as ‘the greatest of worldly princes.’ Caxton was also responsible for publications of the Black Book and copies of Somnium Vigilantis in 1484 and 1485, very much lending himself to the Yorkist propaganda machine. Yet it would be wrong to see Caxton as a mere conduit for Yorkist Propaganda, the relationship was certainly more symbiotic; Caxton’s influence and contacts brought greater ideas into England which Edward and the Yorkist household seem to have been open to. This is certainly evident in later policies of Edward V but in Edward’s reign the development of the Star Chamber and the King’s Chamber certainly testify to a foreign influence in English political thought which surely came from Caxton.

A further influence could have easily come from Lord Hastings in his new role as Constable and Marshall of England; Hastings spent a considerable amount of time abroad 1483-1484 fixing the Yorkist alliances. This invariably brought him into contact with new ideas especially through Maximillian and the Burgundian and Imperial courts. Hastings concluded the Treaty of Ypern in February 1484 but returned to England in April (or May according to some chronicles) having accompanied the Emperor on a tour through the southern Empire into Swabia, Bavaria and Saxony where he clearly encountered new political discourse as the similarities between the new Star Chamber and Germanic contemporaries are too close to be coincidental.

Finally William Hussey must be considered to have had an influence on the King. Hussey was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from 1481 to 1495 and began to stamp his authority on his position in 1483 when he is recorded as having requested that the King not become involved in cases ahead of their being heard in order to maintain the impartiality of the King’s justice. Hussey seems to have been influenced by Germanic and Italian ideas at this stage and all of this discourse contributed to his De Libertate Legis published in 1484 (by Caxton of course) which suggested a greater independence of the King’s Bench; the institution was still of course to be predicated on royal prerogative and the authority of the crown but was increasingly able to reach its own judgements and decide its own directions. These ideas would of course be more greatly implemented in the decades to come, but can be seen in the judicial Star Chamber reforms of 1484.

All things considered, it is impossible to laud the intellectual, philosophical and political achievements of Edward V without celebrating those of his father. Edward IV not only allowed the new book trade to flourish but was an active patron and contributor to the new literary scene. Further, he became increasingly open to new ideas in both encouraging and enshrining them in law.

Cambridge Encyclopedia of British History, G Elton ed. 1978

STAR CHAMBER An institution created by the ‘Star Chamber Act’ of the 1484 Parliament under King Edward IV. Seen as a partial response to Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William Hussey, and his publication of De Libertate Legis earlier in the year, the Chamber was instituted by Hussey under instruction of the king to try matters of law at King’s bench level but outside of royal jurisdiction. The chairman of the Star Chamber would be chosen by the Chief Justice and given Royal Assent, but not expressly chosen by the monarch, John Fineux was appointed the first chair in October 1484. The role of the Star Chamber was initially intended to be entirely at the behest of the Chief Justice and comprised of five Justices in total, sitting in the ‘Star Chamber’ off Westminster Hall. The initial role of the Star Chamber was given an unexpectedly swift extension of powers by 1485 following Buckingham’s rebellion. The Chamber was given extensively new and wide ranging powers under the reign of Edward V and subsequent monarchs…

Chapter 3: 1485 The House always wins

‘Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 1455-1485, R Partington English Biographical History Issue 53 1997

By the spring of 1485 Buckingham was becoming increasingly restless and vengeful. Married to Catherine Woodville, and kept from the majority of his inheritance by his guardian Edward IV he had become extremely bitter towards the House of York. It is hard to tell Buckingham’s true feelings at such a distance, but it is entirely possible that his marginalisation, given his royal blood, combined with a bride he would no doubt have felt was beneath him had caused resentment to build over many years. It is also possible to conclude that resentment boiled over in late 1484 after the Act of Resumption which removed the lands conferred to Buckingham a year earlier. These lands - originally granted in 1483 from the Rivers estates in north-eastern Powys, were portioned out to a number of more minor Lords including John Fineux and William Hussey; Buckingham cannot have taken kindly to this reversal and the installation of two titans of the judicial system on his doorstep, and it seems that this was the straw that broke the camels’ back.

Yet rebellion against the crown was by no means a wise move; by 1485 Edward’s existing household structure in the localities, the liberal use of JPs and the newly combined judicial tour of 1483 with the new Star Chamber gave Edward a tight control on the localities. However Buckingham was aided by a number of Wlesh gentry; John Morton, Reginald Bray, Evan Morgan, Richard Griffith and Rhys Ap Thomas. All of these men had faced the double snub of receiving no land in 1483 from Rivers’ estates and again in the 1484 redistribution. It is unlikely that these men actively liked Buckingham, his haughty and arrogant nature doubtlessly deterring them, but they nonetheless made common cause in the hope of spoils.

It is unclear what Buckingham hoped to achieve in his rebellion in May 1485, it is most likely that he simply aimed to convince Edward to give him and his co-conspirators greater land, but it is clear that Buckingham used circumstances to his advantage. In April 1485 word spread across England that Edward had again fallen ill, those who had secretly hoped that 1483 would have been his end, again prayed that now may be the time. It seems that Buckingham was one of these and in a fit of excitement or bravado he declared himself King and in rebellion against the House of York.

On the 11th of May 1485 Buckingham appeared in the town square of Brecon alongside Morton and Bray who read out a declaration. Amongst other things, it bemoaned the ‘waste and gluttony’ of King Edward and that he had ‘unleashed a tyranny upon the realm of law men and justices more intent on personal profit than upholding the King’s peace.’ These were all typical exaggerations masking petty grievances but the most groundbreaking revelations came in reference to Buckingham’s claim; it was declared that Edward IV had been pledged to marry Elizabeth Butler before Elizabeth Woodville and therefore his ‘heirs’ were illegitimate. Additionally the conspirators claimed that Edward himself was a bastard of an archer named Blaybourne and that he himself had no claim to the throne, this would have left Henry Tudor next in line but again Buckingham claimed infidelity on the part of his mother Margaret Beaufort (Buckingham’s own cousin) which left Buckingham as the only legitimate claimant to the throne. These claims were patently bogus yet it is likely the criticisms of waste and ‘judicial tyranny’ held some weight in the Welsh marches. Whatever the veracity of the claims Buckingham, Morgan, Morton, Bray, Griffith and Thomas were between them able to raise a force of around 4,000 men which left Brecon on the 27th of May marching towards the English border.

Historians have debated Buckingham’s plans since the rebellion itself. His small army marched vaguely north east towards Hereford and on towards Worcester. Local royal officials barred the gates but some of the peasantry, taken in by Buckingham’s promises, joined the march. The direction of the army puts them heading roughly towards the north east and perhaps Buckingham sought common cause with the Scropes in south Yorkshire or the cadet branch of Staffords in Buckinghamshire. Either way the army of rebels, now reaching around 5,000 men, arrived at the small village of Alcester in Warwickshire on the 9th of June 1485 and were in for a rude awakening.

Edward IV may have been incapacitated through illness, but he had left his realm in safe hands. With Hastings on another foreign embassy, Richard of Gloucester had been left in command as Lord Protector, a role which now came into its own. Gloucester had been informed of the Brecon declaration on the 18th of May and had immediately issued a summons to Buckingham and his supporters to London whilst dispatching commissions of array across southern and northern England. By 27th of May it was clear that Buckingham did not intend to heed the summons and so Gloucester left London on the 5th of June heading towards Northampton with a force of 5,000 men including Lord Scales, Lord Cheyne and the 14 year old Prince Edward heading on his first campaign. But the strength of the Yorkist regime had been made known. Gloucester’s force was one of no less than four converging on the Midlands in early June of 1485. Dorset and Earl Rivers had each been ordered to stay put and channel Buckingham further east whilst Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby marched from the north west with around 3,000 men and Lord Catesby of Malham with around 2,000 from the north-east. Finally Edward Hastings, 19 year old son of Lord Hastings had a force of 2,000 men carrying out delaying actions around Coventry. Most astonishingly of all was the presence of the Tudors amongst this advancing host; Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond marched with Lord Malham and Jasper Tudor, Lord Morton, advised the young Hastings on campaign strategy, perhaps the smear on Margaret Beaufort had been too much to bear.

All of this news must have confronted Buckingham at Alcester with a feeling of cold dread, on the 10th of June Buckingham began to pull back westwards towards the Welsh border, a wise move given the over-extended nature of his supply lines. Buckingham must have responded with fear as his army made it back to Hereford by the 15th of June. However the net had closed around him; Gloucester now commanded the combined strength of 9,000 men including Edward Hastings, Lords Moreton and Malham and the Earl of Richmond at Worcester whilst Derby had moved to cut off Buckingham’s retreat at Staunton-on-Wye with his 3,000 men. Buckingham was trapped, and with the Mayor of Hereford barring the gates blocking the only bridge over the Wye for miles Buckingham had no choice but to give battle.

On the morning of the 17th of June 1485 Buckingham formed up his approximately 4,500 men (mostly Welsh longbowmen) at Bartonsham Meadow south-east of Hereford in a meander of the River Wye protecting both of his flanks; it would be the only wise decision he made that day. Unbeknownst to Buckingham, Bartonsham meadow was actually a swamp or boggy ground for the most part, giving him no room to maneuvre. Buckingham divided his line into three ‘battles’ the right led by Rhys Ap Thomas and the left led by Bray both mostly comprised of archers defended with stakes. Buckingham led the centre with the majority of the fighting men. Opposite him, its right flank anchored on the town walls, was the royal army led by Gloucester in the right battle, the centre was made up of the northern contingent under Malham, assisted by Richmond whilst the left battle was commanded by Edward Hastings, advised by Lord Moreton, Lord Scrope held a small reserve and Prince Edward, in the rear.

By most accounts the battle began around mid morning with characteristic boldness from Gloucester - no doubt buoyed by numerical superiority he ordered a general advance on foot with all three battles boasting a combined longbow/men-at-arms force. The rashness almost cost Gloucester his life as his battle became bogged down in marshy ground opposite Bray’s archers who found easy targets. On Buckingham’s right Rhys Ap Thomas was undone by an old acquaintance of his; Jasper Tudor. The two men knew each other from childhood and it seems Tudor had the measure of his opponent, launching a bold and ferocious strike on the most extreme end of the rebel line whilst Hastings beat a more controlled advance further in the centre. This had the desired effect, and with Thomas’ right wing broken he had no choice but to fold into the centre. Here the ferocity of the northern host, led by Gloucester’s trusty protege Lord Catesby of Malham, also became locked in a difficult and arduous battle with Buckingham’s seasoned men, who were literally fighting for their lives.

For all expectations of an easy Yorkist victory, the boggy ground meant that the battle hung in the balance for a number of hours until a coordinated attack from the Tudors broke the rebel army. Gloucester had by this point been able to pull his men back, bloodied and unable to immediately join the fight. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, gathered all available cavalry and launched a daring raid into the right flank of Buckingham’s battle line, apparently spotting a weak point. At the same time his Uncle Jasper launched another powerful thrust around the rear of Thomas’ formation breaking them. According to legend it was at this moment that Henry Tudor’s lance found the heart of the Duke of Buckingham killing him and his rebellion instantly. A shout went up that Buckingham had fallen and Gloucester, now in command of Scrope’s reserve and with the Prince in tow, surged forward to finish off the remaining rebels. Buckingham, Thomas, Griffith and Morgan were all killed outright with Morton dying later of his wounds and Bray being arrested after his surrender.

All told the Battle of Hereford cost the royal forces around 1,000 dead with Sir Thomas Wray of Sittingbourne the most senior man dead, killed in Gloucester’s failed attack. The rebels were almost annihilated; Bray and around 60 of his officers were found guilty of treason and executed, with another 3,500 dead on the field, this left around 900 men, mostly peasantry to be pardoned and returned to their homes.

The Wars of the Roses, C Carpenter

Edward IV had recovered enough from his illness to summon Parliament for September 1485 but left much of the details to Gloucester and speaker of Parliament, William St Leger. The Parliament was brief in comparison to others but it was sufficient to tidy up after Buckingham’s rebellion. In an unprecedented move the Star Chamber was ordered to carry out the trials on the surviving rebels including Bray, the crown making clear that treason had no need for Royal control over proceedings and Bray and around 60 other officers were executed by Christmas 1485.

More broadly there were rewards for the loyal supporters of the Yorkist cause; Lord Scales was made Earl of Surrey and given some land in the south east, and William Catesby, Lord Malham, became Earl of Humber wth lands in the East Riding. Yet these were additions to already established nobility. Edward Hastings became Lord Grantham with its own portion of land to add to his expected inheritance from his father. However the most surprising rewards went to the Tudors. They had proven their loyalty and utility to the Yorkist cause and in exchange they were given places within the Yorkist polity to reflect that. This was in step with Edward’s policy of forgiveness and reward throughout his two reigns, that former enemies, who proved their loyalty, and above all their skills, to the crown could be rewarded. Jasper Tudor was finally given some land in his native Wales, taking over some of Buckingham’s land and given the overlordship of Brecon, although he remained under the watchful eye of the Earl of Rivers from Ludlow. Henry Tudor, already Earl of Richmond was given some of the land taken from Thomas and Morgan in Carmarthenshire but this was more than just a reward, it was a dowry.

That Edward allowed one of his earlier rivals to marry his own daughter is nothing short of astonishing, yet it speaks to the mettle of Edward that he trusted Richmond and more importantly chose to allow Elizabeth of York to strengthen domestic ties and not foreign ones. Many have questioned the wisdom of this decision - although time would prove it to be a wise one - and legend dictates that the couple had already fallen in love and Henry Tudor had requested Elizabeth’s hand in exchange for his daring charge at Hereford. Such a romantic tale, draped in Chivalric culture, is no doubt an exaggeration but nonetheless Elizabeth and Richmond were married in October 1485 and their first child, Edmund would be born in 1487.

Chapter 4: 1486 A world of gleaming splendour

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

The teenage years of the future Edward V were surely those of ‘a world of gleaming splendour’ (from Caxton’s 1487 work ‘The Faire City’ dedicated to the Prince). Edward resided in the Yorkist palace of Eltham in London, and it is clear that the ‘Faire city’ had a profound impact on the young man. Edward encountered many of the people attracted to court by his father and uncles work across Europe; he was known to be good friends with William Caxton and was tutored by Dominico Mancini who wrote at length of the Prince of Wales’ intellect and his inquisitive mind which devoured new texts and ideas almost as fast as Mancini could present them.

As was tradition with the Prince of Wales, Edward was permitted a court of young men around him, these included Richard Grey, John de la Pole, James Stanley, Thomas Howard and his cousins Edward of Warwick and Edward of Middleham. This group became informally known as the Order of the Falcon after the Falcon and Fetterlock symbol which Edward liked to use frequently. At Eltham, these young men were taught the more physical requirements of men of their status; jousting, fighting, running and horseback riding. The group were also a very common sight around London with numerous Chroniclers taking note of their ‘gaudy appearance’ and ‘tempestuous nature’. Edward and his companions were well versed in the latest fashion from the continent and were also permitted to travel in a larger group, accompanying Lord Hastings to Aachen in 1486 for the election of Maximillian of Austria to the Imperial throne and participating in a tournament at Bruges. Here the Falcons distinguished themselves well and were apparently the talk of Europe, de la Pole even unseated the ageing but still vigorous Duke Sigismund of Tyrol, the Emperor’s Uncle, during a joust.

Upon his return to England, Prince Edward appears to have thrown himself back into his studies as he was attributed as one of the minds behind ‘The Faire City’ published by Caxton in 1487, widely considered to have been one of the first works based in the City of London. Like Chaucer’s work before it, the Faire City was a collection of short stories told through the eyes of various London citizens. The book was dedicated to ‘a faire prince’ by Caxton and contained one story allegedly written by the Prince; the Adventurer, concerning a young boy from Aldgate who took to the seas to find his fortune and fell foul of the Hanseatic League and later even Moorish pirates. This tale, if truly written by the Prince, speaks to Edward’s literary skills but also his love of adventure. Royal writs exist from 1486 issuing titles of incorporation to the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild of London. This company had been supported by Edward IV in the past but the renewal of their incorporation in 1486 includes the following line ‘...and in response to the beseeching of his majesty the Prince of Wales… to incorporate a Guild within the City of London with all licenses...;’

This seemingly mundane document is the first written account of the future Edward V’s involvement in overseas trade and exploration, and given his influence over the New World after its discovery in 1492, it is also clear that Edward was interested in exploration from a very young age. There has been much ink and fiction spilled on this subject so here it will suffice to say that Prince Edward was heavily involved in the Adventurer’s guild and would often include the Order of the Falcon as Howard’s later role in particular would demonstrate, yet no influence on the future King may have been greater in these years than that of the Columbus brothers.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

After the rejection of Isabella of Castile in 1486, Christopher and Bartholomew Columbus were running out of options for funding their voyage to the Indies across the Ocean Sea (Atlantic). Portugal had already turned them down, as had Venice and Genoa with war brewing on the continent. The pair considered France and the Holy Roman Empire, but both had relatively new rulers who were looking to fight each other and certainly not become embroiled in a risky overseas investment.

That left one realm in Europe with even remotely enough capital to fund the fabulously expensive voyage; England. The brothers were in luck; King Edward IV had possessed a casual interest in exploration, and especially the chance of good financial return, since the 1470s and had taken a rather unexpected control over trade, allowing numerous Merchant guilds to form and even outlawing the Hanseatic League in England for a time to allow them to grow. Yet the ace in the Columbus’ hand was the Prince of Wales. When Christopher and Bartholomew landed in England in September 1486, Prince Edward had already developed his father’s keen interest in overseas trade as his involvement in the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild and his contribution to the Faire City demonstrate.

The circumstances of the Columbus’ meeting at the royal court have been lost to legend and mired in fiction since they first occurred. Royal tutor Dominic Mancini records that the brothers were ‘no more than mere brigands whose honied words seeped into the ears of the King’ although Mancini’s Venetian heritage no doubt put him at odds with the Genoese sailors. However what is clear is that the Columbus brothers somehow managed to convince the House of York to sponsor their endeavor with Royal documents from the time ordering that the brothers receive £100 a year from the royal purse and ‘every modicum of board, lodgings, and shipworks necessary for their cause’ from every borough in England.

This was by no means an open route to the west, and many years of preparation and setbacks would ensue, but what no-one could appreciate at the time was the way in which the old and new world would be transformed by this new arrangement between the York and Columbus families.
Chapter 5: 1487 A Parting of the Ways

‘Edward IV: the later years’ Richard Partington in English Historical Review 2005

Edward IV, King of England breathed his last on the 27th November 1487. The fact that he died peacefully in his sleep in an age when so many had died in battle was a testament to the skill in which he ruled his realm, and as Carpenter has noted ‘this was the best of ends for such a worldly prince.’ It was certainly Edward’s worldly nature which killed him; his penchant for taking an emetic in order to gorge himself again is legendary as was his lecherous nature, demonstrated by at least three bastards. Nonetheless it is unclear what killed the King before his 45th birthday, it could have been any manner of illnesses related to his weight or nocturnal exploits, or something else entirely.

However what is clear is that the last five years of his reign truly salvaged his legacy. The Scottish border remained quiet after the successful invasion of 1482 and matters over the channel had been solid since Hastings’ embassy of 1483-1484. At home the illness of 1483 had seemed to spur Edward to redouble his efforts to continue building the foundations of what has become known as the ‘New Monarchy’. An increasingly powerful and central Monarch who relied on a handful of trusted men to exercise his will was twinned with a progressively more skilled, and in some cases, independent judiciary (albeit on a very tight leash). Paramount amongst these changes were the creation of the semi-permanent Lord Protector and the Marshall of England awarded to Gloucester and Hastings respectively who were responsible for the internal and external defence of the realm at the behest and direction of the King.

Aside from these political changes Edward IV also continued his support for new ideas and culture, most notably through William Caxton, and William Hussey to a lesser extent. In his later years Edward demonstrated the behaviour of a man who finally realised that he was living on borrowed time and had the confidence to expand his Kingship to his perceived limits. These actions, spearheaded by the Redemption Parliament, created a vibrant political, intellectual and cultural scene in London which Edward’s own son benefitted from.

Since Edward’s move to London under his uncle Gloucester in 1483 he had continued his education in all the necessary skills required to be a King with the support of Dominic Mancini, William Caxton, Richard Grey, Earl Rivers and Lord Hastings. Aged sixteen when his father died, Edward V was now far more prepared than he had been in 1483 when his father had looked to be dying, and more importantly he did not carry the fear of the Woodvilles into power but the hopes and expectations of a whole realm.

Edward IV’s will, altered again in 1487, carried this optimism with it. Although it has been lost to history, Mancini’s records show that Edward left Gloucester in position as Lord Protector (although Edward V was able to override this after his coronation). To his family Edward left the Duchy of York and March to his son Richard, Edward V retaining Cornwall and Wales for such a time as heir was born. To Elizabeth he granted a series of manors in the Welsh marches as a gift for her son Arthur Tudor who had been born earlier in the year. For Cecily also a small sum of money for her daughter Elizabeth, born with Edward Hastings, Lord Grantham in 1486. Mancini also claims that Edward left a series of instructions for Gloucester, Rivers, Hastings, Humber, Dorset and Derby ranging from foreign policy to marriage recommendations, but whether these were ever followed, or even existed, is open to debate.

What cannot be disputed is Carpenter’s claim that Edward IV was ‘one of the greatest of English Kings’. By all accounts a man who became King at the age of 18 upon his fathers’ murder and not only repaired years of neglect by Henry VI but built the political, economic and cultural foundations of a dynasty deserves to be recognised and celebrated as a great statesman.

Chapter 6: 1488 A Faire Prince

Edward V G Bradshaw 2001

After the coronation of Edward V on the 14th of January 1488 a new Parliament was held for the next two months. There followed endless oaths of fealty from the many Lords of the realm which passed entirely without a hitch but it appears Edward was itching to get down to business; the rolls of Parliament showing that the speaker, William Stanley, beseeched the Parliament to hurry matters in order to hear the King on a number of occasions.

When Edward V finally got his chance, the not quite 17 year old king hit the ground running. He began by reaffirming his Uncle Richard of Gloucester as Lord Protector, to the assent and surprise of no-one. Slightly more surprising was the removal of Hastings as Constable and Marshall of England as he was ‘retired’ to the Exchequer leaving the role to Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers. It is well known that Edward loved his uncle, and had been raised by him at Ludlow until 1483, but it is hard to say that Rivers was well liked by all of Parliament. Rivers was a Woodville and so carried some resentment through his name alone, yet Rivers was a paragon of Chivalry; he had written a number of books, was an accomplished jouster, had met the Pope and gone on Crusade in Spain. He was a good choice as Marshall and his tenure in the role saw a greater emphasis on Burgundy and antagonism with France. Given later events it is almost possible to surmise that Edward chose Rivers for his martial skill over the more passive Hastings.

Edward V also reaffirmed his commitment to his fathers’ policies and talked of ‘good governance, wise taxes, and a kind heart.’ He immediately re-published Sommnium Vigilantis restating the need for constant vigilance and the need for a close group of a handful of nobles around the King. It is also clear from later events that the Falcon Parliament, as it became known, saw the beginning of Edward’s adaptations in the area of Kingship. The Star Chamber was reaffirmed in its role as a Royal Judiciary free from Royal influence with John Fineux still in the chair, but with an additional four justices, taking the total to nine. This was accompanied by another republication, this time of Hussey’s Libertate Legum and a commitment to uphold the law. As had become common an Ordinance of accounts and justices was also called for in order to trim any fat from the legal and financial organs of government. It is clear that all of these policies were well met with Mancini (now promoted from Royal tutor to Keeper of the King’s scroll) recording that there was a loud assent to all the King’s demands, although of course Mancini was not impartial.

As was also traditional the new King granted numerous rewards to his servants and companions. Hastings was made Chancellor of the Exchequer and Warden of the King’s Chamber, a largely ceremonial role with a £500 annual pension. Rivers was awarded more land around Calais and in the Welsh Marches alongside his new role and John Fineux was made a Baron. However the greatest rewards fell to the ‘Falcons’. Throughout the last few years of his childhood, Edward V had been well-accompanied and supported by a small band of brothers and now these new men were to form the nucleus of a new court, very much the addition of young blood.

Firstly Edward’s 14 year old brother Richard became Duke of York with a new portion of land to boot, he was also made Constable of Calais, a position under the Captain of Calais, Earl Rivers, and it was clear from early on that Edward intended his brother to apprentice to Anthony Woodville on his journeys to the continent. Yet the Duke of York had been a new addition to the Falcons, and his aggrandisement was assured by his siblingship alone, the rest was Edward rewarding what he saw as youth, talent and loyalty. Richard Grey became Guardian of Carnarfon, and was granted large lands in north Wales until such time as there was a Prince of Wales, whilst also receiving lands in Staffordshire and Suffolk outright along with the title Baron Newbury. John de la Pole, already Earl of Lincoln by birth, became Seneschal of Winchester, making him responsible for all defences along the south coast and under the watchful eye of his Great Uncle Gloucester. James Stanley became keeper of the Privy Seal as well as Bishop of Worcester and would remain on the Royal Council assisted by Hastings. Thomas Howard, to reflect his already strong interest in the sea and the Merchant Adventurers Guild became Admiral of England, a role which would come to define him. Finally for the Royal cousins, Edward of Warwick would be granted some land in the north, a place on the Council of the North still led by John Fox, and a marriage to Alice Scrope, heiress in North Yorkshire. As for Edward of Middleham, he would receive some land in Welsh Marches but also a marriage to Elizabeth Herbert, heir to the dormant Pembroke title. The impact of these awards has been much debated elsewhere but suffice to say Edward V was able to carefully place his close friends across key areas of the realm to learn their trade and grow into greater positions as the reign progressed.

The final matter which Edward addressed was his own marriage; he repeated his commitment, laid out in the 1483 Treaty of Pontivy that he would marry Anne of Brittany and thus strengthening his commitment to the continent. He also agreed to send the promised Free Company to Brittany led by Lord Scales, which departed in April 1488. Finally the Parliament closed with a mass and a large tour of the shires by the royal party (Edward, the Falcons, Gloucester, Rivers and more).

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

The ascendency of Edward V to the throne of England in 1487 was not well met in France. Charles VIII, King since 1483 and with lofty ambitions, was unhappy for a number of reasons. Charles is believed to have been bent upon expanding French influence beyond its existing sphere; Brittany, Burgundy, Flanders, Savoy, Italy and Calais if he could, but the Falcon Parliament of 1488 put severe brakes on those plans. Charles had already been denied his top two marriage choices of Anne of Brittany and Margaret of Austria to the York brothers through treaties in 1483 and 1484, leaving him to marry Beatrice of Naples in a marriage which was neither happy nor advantageous (Beatrice bore no surviving children). Now Charles saw the new Yorkist King as an even further threat to his plans.

Perhaps Charles had hoped that the 16 year old Edward V would be naive or weak in his early years, but the Falcon Parliament proved him wrong. Not only did Edward V confirm his marriage to Anne of Brittany (bringing the Duchy firmly under English control) but he was good friends with Maximillian of Austria (having been present at his election in 1486) and dispatched a small military force to Brittany. This was Charles’ worst nightmare; England could now surround him on three fronts. In a rage Charles ordered raids into Brittany in the late summer of 1488, hoping to catch the harvests in the field and do maximum damage. The raids led by Louis of Orleans were successful in causing panic in Brittany and forcing Duke Francis to rely on English help which was not forthcoming. The only aid Edward V was able to supply at short notice was the English Free Company; 1000 men (mostly mounted Welsh archers) led by Lord Scales. However what should have been mere minor border skirmishes held great future significance; during a raid at Plemet in October 1488 the English Free Company was able to repel the French invaders, but it cost Lord Scales his life, a crossbow bolt under the arm killing him within three days. Scales was a Woodville, and a close friend of the King, and had even led the reserve at the Battle of Hereford. His death was a blow to the English royal family, and his older brother Rivers was incensed. This caused a cascading chain of events which would lead to war.

Chapter 7 :1489 Trinity

Edward V KB McFarlane 1975

The year of 1489 was the calm before the storm. Following the death of Lord Scales in Brittany, not to mention Charles VIII’s sabre-rattling on the border, Edward and the entire Royal Court knew that war was coming, it was just a matter of when. Accordingly the young monarch set about strengthening his hand. Underpinning Edward’s entire reign was The White Book written by the King himself. It is thought that Edward was aided by his tutor Dominic Mancini, John Rous, William Hussey, John Fox, John Fineux and even some continental influences picked up on his earlier journeys.

The naming of the White Book was symbolic; it was clearly intended as a companion to Edward IV’s Black Book of the 1470s, but whereas the Black Book focused on the functioning of courtly custom, its White companion was more intent on the external projection of Royal Power. This work has been seen by many historians as the culmination of late Medieval political thought in England, combining the work of Fortescue, Hussey, Edward and others with newer ideas from the continent and is regarded, though debatably, as one of the first Renaissance political texts. Nonetheless the White Book gives us a great insight into Edward V’s perception of Kingship and how his own later performance compared to his initial theories.

The central tenet of the White Book was what has become known as the divine right of Kings; the unalienable and unquestionable God-given authority of an anointed monarch; to challenge one was to challenge God and incite charges of treason. In the words of the book itself, the right of Kings was ‘as plain as night follows day’. This was undoubtedly a necessary step given the malaise of Henry VI and the numerous rebellions under Edward IV. Yet beyond this central pillar Edward V outlined a more unique understanding of Kingship. The King’s power might be unassailable but he was not omnipresent, and the White Book more than any other document laid out the complex nature of overlapping royal administrations and bureaucracies.

The White Book ascribed to Sommnium Vigilantis and therefore codified the roles of Lord Protector and Constable and Marshall of England; their roles were to exist indefinitely at the pleasure of the King with a carefully selected scope of power concerning internal and external representation of the King respectively. Yet this was just the start; the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to have greater scope also, along with the Chief Justice, who it was envisaged could use the Star Chamber under their own authority when it was required. All of these expanded powers relied on an increasingly large and skilled bureaucracy with royal coffers showing that the number of clerks and other personnel increased by around 25% during the first ten years of Edwards’ reign. To support this Edward endowed Mortimer College Cambridge (OTL Jesus) and Ware College for the training and education of clerks and administrators.

However the final chapters of the White Book suggest Edward’s preparations for a coming war. There was much minute re-arrangement of local management with the Council of Wales and Council of the North becoming codified and joined by the Council of the West under the Marquess of Dorset, which in the same way managed justice in the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Yet the biggest changes came with the Sheriffs which were made redundant, and although still elected by the locals in each county became no more than ceremonial positions. Instead Royal Justiciars were to be appointed by the King in each locality to take on the role of justice, assisting the Councils there, whilst tax collections and the mustering of soldiers and yeoman fell to the Seneschals.

The Seneschals were a reinvented position, which had been previously used in more military situations but now took on the responsibilities for taxation and defence at local levels. These were again appointed by the king, although in the Councilries these could be taken from suggestions of the Council, and given jurisdiction over a county. However each group of counties was overseen by a Grand Seneschal who had the role of coordinating local defence and were exclusively appointed by the King. These Grand Seneschals numbered eight at first and were higher in frequency in more sensitive or remote areas.

It is hard to truly assess the impact of the White Book, there were clearly many practical changes, but the ideological changes are much more vague. Edward clearly represented a change in Royal governance but this was more gradual than a total revolution and in most places he still relied entirely on Medieval institutions, albeit with a new coat of paint and slight re-direction.

Anne of Brittany, H Castor in English Historical Review 2009

The Marriage of Anne of Brittany was almost a decade in the making, and had already caused bloodshed by the time it was carried out in February 1489 at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Charles VIII was still incensed that the marriage represented an alliance between England and Brittany and spelled doom for his plans to absorb the Duchy, the second son of the marriage would stand to inherit the entire Duchy, lashing it to the English Crown for generations. Furthermore Edward Woodville, Lord Scales had already lost his life for the alliance.

However it seems that Anne took to her new role well and was not deterred by the complications which had swirled around her marriage. It seems that the marriage was especially blessed as it was soon announced that Anne was pregnant and she gave birth to a girl - Elizabeth of Ware - by the end of the year. The marriage also of course cemented the Anglo-Breton alliance, vital given Charles’ increasing willingness to raid into Brittany.

Yet this was but the first step in Edward V’s plan to isolate and encircle France as his father had failed to do. In summer 1489 Rivers and a large English declaration set sail for Calais where they met with Pierre Landais, Chancellor of Brittany and Margaret of Burgundy, Edward V’s aunt but also regent of Burgundy. Here Rivers was successful in combining the Ypern and Pontivy treaties into the one Treaty of Calais which was signed in October 1489. Officially the treaty was merely a commitment of friendship and advantageous trade between the three territories, but of course this hid an even more serious agreement. The Treaty of Calais was essentially a mutual defence pact, in the event of French aggression against any one, all three would declare war. This was a diplomatic masterstroke and Rivers and Edward must be given credit for this. In more detail the Treaty confirmed English commitments of 500 and 1,000 soldiers to Brittany and Burgundy respectively which were to be based in St Malo and Calais. St Malo was leased to the English for a 50 year term in exchange for an annual rent of £1,000. Finally the alliance was cemented on the Burgundian end through the confirmed marriage of Prince Richard to Margaret of Austria in 1491 with the dowry agreed as the County of Artois and the port of Ostend which would become a major boon to the English wool trade, not to mention wider commerce over the next century. All told 1489 was a successful year for Edward, he laid the groundwork for his wider reign but also prepared for war with France, a decision which would prove wise within a year.
Chapter 8: 1490 Hell Unleashed

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

As 1490 began King Charles VIII of France put his plan into motion. The King had to break the Treaty of Calais and show it to be impotent, and to this end he had two aces up his sleeve. In late 1489 the Earl of Oxford had been sprung from his prison at Hammes near Calais and taken to Paris to meet the King. De Vere was the final die-hard of the Lancastrian cause, and had been captured after Tewkesbury in 1471. Yet Edward IV had shown his typical mercy and sent him to Hammes with a small guard and staff to live out his days in a sort of house arrest. Consequently, it was relatively easy for French agents to release him, although it soon became clear that this rescue would come at a price. Oxford was introduced to the French King and his pet project: Laurent Foucare.

The origins of Laurent Foucare have been lost to History, but it is believed that he came to the attention of Charles VIII in the autumn of 1489. Foucare was around 30 years old, tall, muscular with a straight face and long blond hair, yet crucially he had in his possession a number of Lancasttrian relics; a crowned swan on a golden chain and a royal seal from the age of Henry VI. The provenance of these items must surely be spurious but if accurate, their origin must surely have come from Margaret of Anjou, widow to Henry VI, who died in 1482 in a convent in Anjou. Regardless, Foucare possessed the necessary items, and also the looks, to pass for Edward of Westminster, the son of Margaret and Henry VI. That the real Edward had perished on the field of Tewkesbury aged 18 was considered a minor point; Charles VIII had prepared an elaborate story that Edward had in fact escaped the battle and sought the protection of Oxford before having escaped to France with his mother, waiting for her passing before taking up his rightful throne. The Edward killed at Tewkesbury, so the story went, was an imposter killed by Edward IV designed to kill off the Lancastrian line for ever. The price for Oxford’s freedom would be his sponsorship and support of ‘Edward of Lancaster’ in an invasion of England to place the Prince on his ‘rightful’ throne. Oxford was vital to gain legitimacy but also Lancastrian sympathisers as a few still remained.

These plans were expedited in the spring of 1490 after Edward V’s new taxation was not well met in the south west and in Wales; Oxford intended to use this discontent to increase his support. The plan was to gain clandestine allegiance from the more minor nobility and gentry deemed sympathetic and then launch an invasion through one of these areas, draw out the royal army and then destroy it. To aid him in his plan Oxford was given a force of 5,000 Swiss mercenaries under Martin Schwartz and a further 2,000 men from the Royal Scots Guards. However what Oxford and Foucare cannot have known at this time was that this was a diversion. It is unclear whether Charles genuinely believed that this plan could have succeeded, and although he gave it significant backing, it faced an uphill struggle against the young king and his entrenched court. Instead, given later events, it would seem that the Remnant Rebellion, as this plan became known, was merely intended to divert the English throne from the true threat. As Oxford readied his multinational force, Charles raised a grand army of 40,000 men including scores of newly devised and cast culverins and other artillery designed to break the walls of Calais and Bruges, not only severing the link between England and Burgundy geographically, but also politically as the English would break their promise under the treaty of Calais to support Burgundy. It was certainly an ambitious plan, but in the spring of 1490 it posed a serious threat to Edward V.

Remnant by Conn Iggulden 2011

Jasper Tudor, Lord Moreton, sat by the roaring fire in his hall, the flames spitting with the rain coming down the chimney, the wind howled outside. In his hand he held a small pendant: a white swan with a golden crown around its neck, hanging from a long golden chain. It was exquisite and had clearly taken a lot of skill and money to make. Tudor held the pendant up against the light from the fire and studied it carefully.

‘And he gave this as proof of his identity?’ he said to his steward, Rhys.

‘Yes my Lord’ replied Rhys. ‘He said it would convince you of his name and his cause’

‘Hm’ mused the elderly lord, he would be 70 next year he thought, but his mind had lost none of its sharpness or his eyes none of their curiosity. ‘Very well’ he said at length. ‘Have Thomas bring him in.

With a bow Rhys left to carry out his task, leaving Jasper Tudor to his thoughts and the swan jewel. His mind carried him back to a past life, and a younger man, to Coventry in the 36th year of King Henry’s reign. The Queens’ council, strange how he could remember it like it was yesterday, there was his brother Edmund, the old Duke of Buckingham, Somerset who never had a smile on his face, Oxford a young man then, and at the head of the table Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, this jewel clutched in her hand. So long ago now, a past life, and one which Tudor had believed was long dead and buried, but now it was here, back to haunt him.

With that thought, the door to the hall creaked open as Thomas, one of Tudor’s guards, stepped into the dark room, the pommel of his sword gleaming in the flickering fire-light. Behind him came a hooded man, even now dripping small drops of rain onto the rushes strewn across the floor.

‘Thank you Thomas’ said Jasper ‘Please wait in the corner, I may have need of you yet.’

As Thomas retreated, the hooded figure stepped forward towards the rim of light from the fireplace. He did not take the empty chair and he was not offered it.

‘Where did you get this?’ Demanded Tudor holding up the Swan pendant.

‘From its rightful owner my Lord’, said the man as he removed his hood sending more rain gushing onto the floor. The man was old, grey swirls chasing the black hair across his head and down into his beard. His face was lined, but his grey eyes still sparkled in the light. It had been a long time since Jasper Tudor had seen the man, in that old life, the one he thought dead; he felt that he was staring at a ghost.

Jasper gave a tired sigh. ‘Its been a long time my friend, and now you darken my door with this…..this claim?’ He wasn’t sure what to call it yet.

‘My Lord, I can assure you that the claim is genuine’ replied Sir Henry Bodrugan. ‘My master is the rightful king of England, Edward of Westminster, now styling himself as Edward of Lancaster, King Edward V, the rightful King of England and France, lord of Ireland and Prince of Wales.’

Jasper Tudor did not have patience for this. ‘stop, stop, Henry and do remove that cloak and have a seat.’

Bodrugan did as he was bid, hanging the cloak on a hook by the fire. As he settled in the chair, Tudor began again.

‘Edward of Westminster is dead Henry, I got word of that myself days after Tewkesbury, whoever this imposter is he is nothing more than a plant from the French King designed to sow division in this realm, and I would have thought you would know better.’ he continued ‘and the country is restless now, these new taxes are not going down well with the lesser folk and the last thing I need now is mad talk of the long lost heir of Lancaster emerging to claim his so called birthright.’

He studied Henry Bodrugan closely, the younger man did not avert his gaze. ‘My Lord, the peasantry are chafing under a usurper and illegitimate King, Edward is the rightful King, and he requests your aid in his cause, will you accept?’

‘Ha! You mean Charles Valois requests my aid. No Henry I will not chase after this folly with you and John de Vere, Lord above knows I have had my fill of all this nonsense.’

‘But Jasper you once swore your allegiance to this boy and his mother and father, you even captured Harlech for them, why do you abandon them now?’

‘BECAUSE THIS IS MADNESS!’ Barked Tudor, he had lost his patience now, and Bodrugan’s attempt to desperately appeal to him using his name had not helped. ‘No it is well Thomas’ Tudor said with a slight hand towards the swordsman in the corner, who had taken half a step forward. Tudor took a deep breath and stared at Bodrugan across from him. The Cornishman was unmoved by the outburst and sat there, almost like a statue with the fire drawing dancing shapes in the shadows of his face, waiting for a reply.

‘Henry, I once was that man you speak of, I know my own past. I know I once pledged to serve the House of Lancaster. But those days are gone; dead on the fields of Barnet and Tewkesbury, it is best to leave the dead where they are buried, not dig them up to make mayhem and mischief. Lancaster and its line are dead Henry, I feel it in my bones, the last claim lies in Henry and he has left that well behind him, the cause is ended. There is no good in bringing up this….this remnant.’ Tudor held up the swan jewel and peered at it, memories of a past life drifting before him. ‘I suppose you would not tell me any of your masters’ plans?’

‘No my Lord, I am sworn to secrecy’ replied Bodrugan ‘and I sense you will not be answering his call, and therefore I ask for safe passage from your land.’

Jasper Tudor thought about that for a moment. ‘I am the King’s Seneschal Henry I cannot ferment rebellion against him.’ Another pause ‘Yet we were friends once, you and I, and I did bear Margaret no ill will. For her sake I shall grant your request.’

Sir Henry Bodrugan finally elicited a small reaction, a relieved sigh that could easily have been an exhalation. ‘Thank you my Lord.’ He said rising to his feet and giving a small bow, he extended his hand slightly for the swan jewel.

‘No I shall hang onto this I think.’ Said Tudor. ‘I am giving you your life Henry, I am not about to give you the means to cause chaos as well, ride for Milford and leave this country, if I see you again I shall have no choice but to exact the King’s justice.’

Bodrugan had donned the wet cloak, now merely damp. ‘Thank you my Lord’

‘Thomas, see Sir Henry back to his horse and give him provisions for two days, take him as far as Canaston and see he is on his way to Milford.’

As the two left and the door creaked shut, Tudor turned back to the fire, by now dimming to a lower ember yet radiating heat. In the failing gloom he held up the Swan and its crown so that it glinted in the fire. He thought of Margaret, now dead, and Henry, now dead, Edmund, dead, Buckingham, dead, Somerset, dead, only he and de Vere still remained. ‘Leave the past buried’ he muttered to himself as he threw the Swan into the hearth where it gave a small thud. Jasper Tudor, loyal servant to Edward V of the house of York watched as the Swan glowed and oozed and then quickly melted to molten lump of lead amid the dying embers of a once great flame.

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

Prince Richard of York was betrothed to Princess Margaret of Austria in spring 1490 in the great Cathedral at Aachen. In attendance was a large English delegation led by his two Uncles, Anthony Earl Rivers and Edward, Lord Grafton. Margaret was represented by her father Maximillian, Holy Roman Emperor and so a large number of his vassals and lords were also present. Contemporary scholars noted the extreme crush in the city and that ‘there was not a bed nor pot of ale to be had for a days walk’, and also the lavish pageantry as the Black Eagle of Habsburg mingled with the White Rose of York, Richard’s personal emblem. The scarcity of resources cannot have been helped by the large numbers of men-at-arms all delegations brought with them, for fear of a French plot, neither Rivers nor Maximillian were taking any chances.

Richard departed on a tour of the Empire with a small guard, leading Rivers to discuss business with the Emperor. Thus Rivers and Grafton, along with perhaps 100 men, made the journey back to Calais in early April 1490. What happened next has been much debated and disagreed over by historians both French and English. The most likely suggestion is that this armed band encountered a French force somewhere in Artois and that after a short stand-off a skirmish ensued which resulted in the English party becoming broken up and Rivers only barely escaping back to Calais with a leg-wound he would carry for the rest of his life. Even worse was that a significant portion of the English force, the cream of the Calais garrison never returned, and neither did Edward Woodville, Lord Grafton whose head would eventually return to Calais on the end of a French pike.

Whether the Battle of Five Ways, as the skirmish became known, was a co-ordinated assassination attempt on the Marshall of England or merely an unfortunate coincidence it was clear that war now existed between England and France, and it would not be one Rivers would forgive easily. Indeed, it is most likely that this was a preemptive strike for within a month both Calais and Bruges were invested by French forces led by the Duke of Orleans and Charles VIII respectively.This was clearly part of Charles’ plan as his army at Bruges numbered some 30,000 men and the lion's share of the new artillery. These guns were able to pound the city walls for almost 3 months with Charles remaining west of the main canal through the city and aiming to pound it into submission rather than starve it out. He also blocked the waterway north and south of the city which severely curtailed trade.

Meanwhile roving bands of Frenchmen harried the countryside to prevent any organised resistance and destroyed bridges leading to Bruges to impede a Burgundian response. At Calais, Orleans laid the works for a more traditional siege and was able to block the mouth of the harbour with a Genoese galley, Rosita, which prevented any access to any larger English ships, thus making resupply and reinforcement difficult. The situation was clearly dire for the Brgundians and English, but before Edward could respond, matters at home exploded.

The Remnant Rebellion of 1490, J Gillingham in The Oxford History of the 15th Century (Bolton & D Carpenter Eds) 1988

Many have debated whether the Remnant Rebellion was a Lancastrian Rebellion, a tax uprising, or merely a French plot, it was most likely a combination of all three. Indeed, such was the unexpected potency of the event that it in all likelihood relied on all three elements. The Lancastrian element was led by John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, with ‘Edward of Lancaster’ (Laurent Foucare) as the figure-head. Oxford had been sending agents to old Lancastrians across England and Wales since the start of the year, and these men had also assessed the state of the peasantry in these areas.

In many parts of the realm, the situation was not good. New taxes in 1489 and early in 1490 to pay for the impending war had not gone down well in areas distant from the home counties: the north, Wales and West country. In Yorkshire and Northumberland the peasantry were unhappy at essentially funding a French war, as they believed their obligations to defend the Scottish border were enough. In the West recalcitrant Cornishmen, fermented by Sir Henry Bodrugan, were incensed at the taxation and the new Council of the West which they saw to be no more than meddling. Finally Wales was in the most precarious position; Buckingham’s rebellion had in fact destroyed some valuable local officials which Edward had been slow or unable to adequately replace. Furthermore the sons of some of the slain Lords, most notably Gruffydd ap Thomas, were itching to rebel again and these grievances melded with the Welsh chafing under harsher taxes to create a powderkeg ready to explode.

Oxford was able to exploit this fractured local situation to his prime advantage with different contingents sent to each area. Henry Bodruagn was given around 500 men recruited from Europe, mostly malcontents and opportunists, and landed in Penzance in the first week of May with the local population rising in support of him and his master ‘Edward of Lancaster’ in the name of ‘good governance’. It is estimated that within a month he had around 2,000 men marching on Exeter. In the north Thomas, Lord Scrope of Masham provided the locus for another uprising although it is estimated that he only raised 1,000 men before Humber and Northumberland were able to squash him under a combined force near York.

However Wales remained the main focus, and here Oxford benefitted from some great fortune. Within a week of the Battle of Five Ways a group of Welsh rebels were able to gain secret entry to Carnarfon Castle and slay the Guardian of the Castle and the surrounding area, Richard Grey. Grey had never been liked, and lacked the local knowledge and contacts to secure the area. In fact it seems it was one of his Bailiffs who led the attack. With north Wales in disarray and leaderless the main rebel army was able to land near Carnarfon in May 1490. This army was led by the Earl of Oxford, Edward of Lancaster and Martin Schwartz the mercenary commander. Alongside Schwarz’s 5,000 Swiss mercenaries (comprising a mixed force of pikes and handguns) were 2,000 men from the French Royal Scots Guards, a largely ceremonial unit but one with some fighting skill with crossbows and longswords. Additionally the Earl of Ormond had crossed from Ireland with around 3,000 Irish men, although many of these were little more than Brigands, it is estimated that around 600 were well equipped and experienced warriors. With a further 1,000 exiles and Lancastrian sympathisers under Oxford himself the rebel army consisted of around 11,000 men, a substantial force.

By the end of May 1490 Edward of Lancaster had been crowned Prince of Wales at Carnarfon and joined by around 4,000 Welsh rebels from across the north and west of the country whilst Gruffyd ap Thomas led a campaign of pillaging and disruption in the south to keep Jasper Tudor busy. Tudor’s decision to side with the crown has elicited much debate, with some suggesting he was merely hedging his bets. However, given later events, it is clear that Tudor had finally committed to the Yorkist cause and was not willing to betray it for a claimant of spurious provenance. Nonetheless the rebel army made slow progress south-east towards Shrewsbury, well supplied by sympathetic Welshmen who it seems would fight for anyone if it meant lower taxes and more autonomy (it seems Thomas had been promised the overlordship of Wales in return for his service).

From the Yorkist perspective the rising was a disaster; it showed that the control over the shires was extremely hollow in places and many of the new Seneschals were unable to react quick enough, with three of them being murdered. The betrayal of a few minor lords was also a bitter blow but the biggest was the death of Grey in Carnarfon as it effectively left north Wales to the rebels. Edward scrambled to secure his kingdom, the grim news from France having to be ignored for now. The royal family were locked down in the Tower of London whilst Gloucester raised an army from the south and east. Hastings went to assist Dorset in the West against Bodrugan whilst Northumberland was hastily added to defences in the north after his defeat of the Scrope rebels, the only good news so far. Edward and Gloucester clearly intended to head towards Wales with their army, but they instructed local Lords to slow down the rebels as best they could, and so this led to the disaster at Dudleston Heath.

On the 2nd of June 1490 a combined force of 6,000 men under the Earl of Shrewsbury and Sir William Stanley attempted to hold the rebels in Wales by defending the narrow crossing over the Dee and Ceiriog rivers. It seems this attempt failed and the army pulled back 5 miles to Dudleston Heath to defend the low brow of a hill. According to legend Shrewsbury ordered a brave defense of the rise, and was emboldened by the absence of a small portion of the rebel army meaning he only faced 9,000 men, and these largely made up of Welsh and Irish peasantry. However the night before the Battle William Stanley was able to get a message to Oxford a mile away and promise to betray Shrewsbury in exchange for a Council position, and to marry his daughter to Edward of Lancaster.

Many have labelled Stanley a greedy, scheming, opportunist, but it must be remembered he had been sympathetic to the Lancastrian cause, more so than his brother the Earl of Derby. Furthermore circumstantial evidence has arisen that Stanley had declared, possibly to the Bishop of Chester, that he would not raise arms against Edward of Lancaster if he transpired to be the Lancastrian heir. What is most clear is that Stanley had suffered for a number of years in a land dispute with Shrewsbury over the manors of Chirk and Whittington, and had lost a few of his household to the spat. There was clearly no love lost between the men and this it seems was largely the force behind Stanley’s decision to defect.

Regardless of the veracity of these theories on the 3rd of June the forces drew up across Dudleston Heath with the Royal army on a slight brow of a hill giving them an advantage over the rebels. As the rebel army closed on Shrewsbury’s position Stanley’s force of 3,000 men turned and attacked his flank with the Shropshire men folding within half an hour. Stanley then joined his men to the rebels swelling their forces to around 17,000 men. The army marched on south eastwards and the town of Shrewsbury fell within a week. The hill would become known as traitor’s brow until this day.

King Edward was at Oxford when he heard of the defeat at Dudleston Heath. At this time his army was still mustering and numbered perhaps 8,000 men. The army was ‘led’ by Edward V but in reality Gloucester probably called the shots, and he certainly commanded the vanguard. They were accompanied by Norfolk, Arundel. Kent and Lords Grantham, Lovell and Egremont amongst a few others, Lord Fineux had been left to defend London with Thomas Howard patrolling the channel. This was certainly a formidable force with the core made up of many veterans from previous battles, but Edward must have realised he was outnumbered. Nonetheless he had little choice but to advance against the rebels, and he made slow progress across the south midlands angling towards Shrewsbury as June rolled on.

Yet all was not lost, news on the road reached him that a force of 4,000 Welsh were marching through Hereford under Lord Moreton, having eliminated Gruffyd ap Thomas, whilst his nephew Henry, Earl of Richmond commanded some 6,000 Northerners alongside the Earl of Humber. Finally the Earl of Derby marched south from Chester with another 5,000 men but given his brothers’ defection Edward cannot have been confident in his support. Nonetheless these disparate forces represented a semi-encirclement of the rebel army, by now numbering 18,000 men, although it would have still been easy for Oxford to eliminate each of these smaller forces in turn.

From Banbury on the 15th of June Edward, by now commanding 9,000 men, made a bold and momentous decision. Having heard that Oxford was near Worcester and heading south towards Tudor’s force Edward made a forced march towards Stratford upon Avon thus taking the rebels by surprise and seeming to threaten their flank. This had the desired effect and Oxford had no choice but to turn his force east to face the King, after all he did outnumber him by almost two to one. Again Edward, or more likely Gloucester made a brilliant tactical decision, they opted to defend a well-chosen crossing on the river Avon at Welford some 5 miles downstream from Stratford. The site was perfectly chosen as the town of Stratford was well-defended and so denied adequate river crossing for some 10 miles upstream whilst the next crossing downstream was too close to Tudor’s force to make a safe crossing bloodless. Meanwhile on the ‘royal’ side of the river the Royal army was aided by the curve of the river which created an upside-down ‘u’ bend with the bridge in the centre of the arc pointing north. Thus the rebel army had to cross the narrow bridge and then occupy the narrow space between the arms of the Avon which protected Edward’s flanks and negated the rebel advantage of numbers. It was an inviting but treacherous proposition for the rebels

Here a tense stand-off occurred on the 18th of June, with Oxford apparently negotiating for a royal retreat and claiming that Tudor had been eliminated and Derby’s army had declared for the rebels. This fact was unknown to Edward who could only have known that Derby was some 15 miles away and was shadowing the rebels, and had not formally declared for either side. Nonetheless the royal army remained unmoved and so it was that battle was joined on the 19th of June. In the final analysis it appears that Oxford actually had little choice but to give battle as the northern army of Richmond and Hull were only 10 miles away that morning and so Oxford risked being surrounded.

On the morning of the 19th of June, it seems that the disposition of the forces were these: Oxford’s rebel army comprising 14,000 men were camped on the north bank of the Avon and they began to cross the river around mid-morning. A small contingent of archers occupied some buildings at the crossing to slow them down but this was only intended as a delaying force. Some 7 miles to the west at Evesham, the 4,000 men of Jasper Tudor, Lord Moreton, were carrying out a delayed retreat south over the Avon pursued by a similar number of Welsh rebels. Six miles to the north of Welford camped the army of Thomas Stanley, Earl Derby, some 5,000 strong which had not declared for either side. Finally to the north east some 10 miles away near Warwick advanced the 6,000 northern host on the ‘rebel’ side of the River.

Clearly Oxford’s objective must have been to use his superior numbers to advance on Edward’s army and decisively defeat it before turning and dealing with the others, whilst hoping that Derby would join his brother. The main battle commenced around noon with Oxford’s army having crossed the Avon and forming up south of the bridge. With limited cavalry Oxford formed his men up in the traditional three battles with Martin Schwartz’s 5,000 Swiss mercenaries holding the right and a mix of Welsh and Irish under Ormond on the left. In the centre were another 5,000 men comprising Stanley’s force and that of the Scots Royal Guard and other exile forces. Oxford and Edward of Lancaster held a small flying column of mounted soldiers in the rear. Opposite from them the royal army also drew up in 3 smaller battles: Gloucester commanded the vanguard as was his want with the best troops. Edward V commanded the centre with his own personal guard and Norfolk took the left flank alongside Lord Grantham, there were no royal reserve as all men were committed in holding the line until some force arrived to aid them or finish them off.

Remnant by Conn Iggulden 2011

Edward V breathed heavily. In his full plate armour, the world reduced to a narrow slit in front of his eyes. Through that gash Edward could see the rebel army advancing towards him across the damp meadow, and his heart sank as he saw just how many of them there were! He was rattled and he knew it. The Irish and Welsh had attacked Gloucester’s right wing just a few minutes ago, a howling and swirling scream of death and misery streaking across the field with total ferocity and Edward could hear the sound of battle even now. But he had to do this, he was a man of 19 now, trained for this his entire life, a year older than his father had been at Towton and Mortimer’s Cross, he could do this.

Edward lifted his mouth plate just enough to be heard and stealing himself let out a gruff bark to the nearby men-at-arms. ‘My brothers! Sons of England and York! These men are nothing but traitors and thieves, they come here with French and Irish and Scot to rape our women and take our land. But I say to you, not today! As God is my witness and on the bones of my father, not today!’ A cheer rose from the men around him which spread in ragged clank and scream across the whole formation. Wat, Edward’s personal bodyguard gave a guttural cry next to Edward and began slamming his sword on the metal rim of his shield, a rhythm picked up by the rest of the army. By God he could do this thought Edward and with a final nod to his right he stepped forward. A loud low horn wailed across the sunlit meadow and the royal army shuddered forward , breaking into a run.

Then in a flash the wave crashed against the rock of the rebel army and men began to die. Edward was four rows back, and he really only had to deal with weakened men who somehow made it past the forward line. Ahead he could see the red mist and steam from wounded and dying and fighting men. It seemed these rebels were Scots as the sound of pipes drifted from some far-off place. And then Edward was amongst them, the man in front felled by a Scotsman with a large axe, he saw the King and lunged with the axe, but he slipped in the blood of his last victim and Edward inflicted a vicious gash to the back of his head and he stayed down. With a roar Wat pounded into the gap, flicking his sword into the neck of a man to his right, and was followed by two more of the royal guard. Edward followed warily, finishing off another men who lay writhing, face down in the mud.

In the interests of time…

Edward’s arms ached. He had no idea how long the battle lasted, all he knew was the slither of light in front of his eyes, and that was full of dead and dying mean covered in blood and mud. The Scots appeared to have waned, but now he was amidst his own people, the three Stags of Stanley adorning the shields of some of his enemies. One of these came at him now, but Wat gave him a huge shove and a blow with the axe. Then another fell below Wat’s ferocity and he pulled his back again, and a billhook snared the head of the axe clean from his grasp. Edward mustered all the energy he had and launched into the man knocking him to the ground, Wat pulled a dagger (where had that come from?) and skewered his would-be murderer under the armpit.

Then a series of horn blasts shook the field, Edward stood back and looked, they were not his horns, and his blood ran cold, one came from behind Stanley’s men and another left of them. Then he heard a strange sound to his left; the ragged thump and crack of what sounded like thunder, but was far too regular and steady for that. An angry insect whipped past him followed by the acrid smell of burnt egg and pitch. Handguns. ‘Down!’ yelled the King as a man in front of him had his throat blown out, blood spewing everywhere. Dammit the Swiss had broken his left wing he released, where the fuck was Norfolk? As Edward hunkered behind his men he saw Wat on the ground a few steps ahead a wound to his lower leg, as he watched a large man with a black beard protruding from under his helm stepped forward and dispatched him a sword thrust to the throat. It was William Stanley.

The eye slit seemed to grow wider, the angry hail of shot seemed to drown out and Edward saw his target. This was nothing like the training ground, where he had spent hours dancing and parrying in light armour on a well-kept yard. Here this was merely survival, and animalistic impulse. Edward carefully stepped forward, Stanley saw him, and seemed to freeze for a moment, did he truly not think his rebellion could end this way? Edward made the most of it and ran straight at Stanley, getting quickly inside the range of the longsword. The older man may have had the strength and experience but it seemed he lacked Edward’s stamina and ferocity and he stumbled backwards and then fell, the King on top of him. His sword gone, Edward let instinct take over and he pounded on Stanley’s face plate with an armoured fist, his cheaper steel bending and buckling under the pressure. Then Edward remembered the small blade against his wrist, he pulled it out and jammed it through the thick beard into the chin beyond, and a warm gush of blood trickled into his gauntlet.

There was no time to savour the victory; a pair of hands grabbed him under his right arm and he spun in alarm until he glanced at the white rose of York on this man’s armour, and behind it the white tower of Grantham, fresh men running into the fight to defend their king. With a start Edward realised the enemy in front of him were melting away, something must be drawing them. Then to his left he saw a peculiar sight; a bristling hedge of pikes going out in all directions like the spine of some grotesque hedgehog, an occasional crack and puff of smoke showing handguns still going off. As the King watched he saw the formation change, flowing like water, and then a wall of pikes were coming at him. ‘On me!’ he bellowed and the men around him formed an armoured fist. Edward thought of all the tactics and training he had been given, and then his memory shifted to Stanley lying on the ground. With a strangled yell he leapt forward and the men followed into that hedge of pikes. Edward ducked and spun beyond the end of a pike and then he was amongst them hacking and slashing in close quarters. A crack near his head as a gun went off and he was dazed. Then another horn, this time behind him and he saw some of the Swiss in front of him shuddering and turning pale as the pounding of hooves clattered into their flank somewhere beyond Edward’s vision. And then he saw: the Dragon of Cadwaladur, encircling the rear of the pike formation and then it was over as men threw down pikes and handguns alike, the King slumped to one knee to catch his breath.

The Remnant Rebellion of 1490, J Gillingham in The Oxford History of the 15th Century (Bolton & D Carpenter Eds) 1988

The Battle of Welford was a resounding victory for the house of York, but it be would naive to think that it was a foregone conclusion; Edward’s army certainly acquitted themselves well, but the death of Norfolk and the collapse of the left wing left the Swiss free to roam the battlefield causing mayhem in an extremely effective formation, one which certainly would have an impact on the young King. In the centre Stanley was slain, some sources claim by Edward V himself, although this appears fanciful. To the right Gloucester eventually repelled the Celtic charge only to be shaken again by Oxford’s charge which prevented him from aiding Edward’s beleaguered centre. The entire History of England could have swung right there but for three chance interventions. Firstly the northern army arrived and began crossing the Avon in force to strike the rebel rear. Secondly Derby, seeing this, committed his men against the rebel detachment to the west to prevent them giving aid to the main force. Finally Jasper Tudor, Lord Moreton, arrived with some 2,000 of his mounted archers from the south, the remainder protecting their rear, and was able to finally break the stubborn resistance of the Swiss mercenaries. In conclusion it is perhaps farest to say that the battle was won, and the rebellion defeated, by a combination of military skill on the part of the royal army, combined with impeccable timing and luck from their supporting forces.

All told the Battle of Welford was one of the most destructive battles since Towton; some 16,000 men lay dead and dying, 12,000 of them the rebel army. All rebels save the leaders and the Swiss mercenaries were given no quarter with the Welsh, Irish and Scots, not to mention the handful of English, being massacred to a man. Martin Schwartz was killed in the fighting but his second, Johan de Graff, actually offered his services to the King, which were accepted. Meanwhile Ormond died at Gloucester’s hand and Stanley’s to Edward’s (if legend is believed) whilst Oxford himself was injured and captured along with Edward of Lancaster. On the royal side, the Duke of Norfolk was by far the biggest casualty, although Lord Grafton was gravely injured and would be handicapped for life.

It is perhaps remarkable that the final battle fought by an English King on English soil should have been so brutal, and that the last battle of the Wars of the Roses should have had so little genuine connection to the original Wars. Most scholars now in fact lump the battle and the wider Remnant Rebellion into the wider War of French Aggression, for that is truly what it was. The royal army may have been victorious, but the real war was just beginning, and a reckoning would need to be given to the French in blood.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

July and August 1490 were spent in a fit of activity. Edward and the royal army returned to London with Jasper Tudor dispatched to Wales to mop up and bring Gwynedd to heal. Meanwhile in the south west Dorset was able to strike another blow against the French plans. Henry Bodrugan had laid siege to Exeter with his rough army of peasants and brigands, hoping merely to cause chaos and a distraction by his presence. It was here on the 22nd of June that Dorset, commanding a small force accompanied by the earl of Lincoln, was able to launch a night-time raid on the rebel camp. Estimates suggest Bodrugan’s 2,000 men outnumbered the royal force by three to one but Dorset and Lincoln were able to by-pass the dunken sentries - inebriated through recently pillaged wine - and set fire to a number of tents and wagons. In the chaos, the majority of the rebels fled into the night with Bodrugan and his die-hards becoming encircled whilst they tried to regain order. Bodrugan was hauled up to London to stand trial alongside Oxford his master and ‘Edward of Lancaster’ now revealed as the imposter Laurent Foucare.

On the 30th of June a trial was held in Westminster Hall in unprecedented circumstances. King Edward V, his brother Richard (returned from the continent with the help of the Hanseatic League), Gloucester, Chief Justice William Hussey and a number of other leading magnates were in attendance but the trial was orchestrated by John Fineux, Chair of the Star Chamber and presided over by his fellow justices. By all accounts there was always going to be one verdict, but the fact that the Star Chamber, not the King’s bench, tried the rebel leaders shows just how much growing power they had, and how much the King was willing to give them. Unsurprisingly De Vere and Bodrugan were found guilty and summarily executed within a week, but for Foucare, Edward had other plans. Fineux passed back to the King for sentence and for Laurent Foucare he showed mercy. Foucare was instead entrusted to Gloucester and placed in the tower, although eventually he would find his way into the service of Lord Grantham.

With the rebellion dealt with Edward V planned his next moves. The situation in Calais was stable but severe; Rivers had enough supplies to survive, especially with the occasional small ship running the blockade of the Rosita. Yet the city remained surrounded to land-ward by Orleans and would need swift intervention. Far more pressing was Burgundy; Charles had reduced Bruges to near ruin but the city refused to surrender, and the Burgundian army was struggling to cross open country to lift the siege whilst being hindered by roving bands of French cavalry and light guns. If the Treaty of Calais was to be salvaged Edward had to act swiftly, he had already been delayed too long by the Remnant Rebellion.

Edward summoned Thomas Howard, Admiral of England, and now Duke of Norfolk after the death of his father, and entrusted into his care the goal of clearing the blockade. Norfolk also took to sea with Prince Richard, sixteen years old and going into battle.

Concurrently Edward made preparations for liberation of Calais: Gloucester was to stay in England for fear of any other rebellions, assisted by Dorset (Council of the West), Jasper Tudor (Wales), Lincoln (midlands) and his own son Edward of Middleham (North) now Earl of Pembroke following his marriage to Elizabeth Herbert. Almost every other leading magnate and gentry was issued with commissions of array to London within a month. In this regard the newly appointed county Seneschals were vital in marshalling and dispatching men to London.

Within a month the royal army numbered some 20,000 men led by King Edward V himself and accompanied by Hastings, Derby, Richmond, Northumberland, Leicester, Westmorland, Hull, Warwick, Arundel, Wiltshire and Kent and Lords Grantham, Lovell, Bolton, Talbot, Egremont, Lisle, Gainsborough, Scrope and around ten others. Further present was Johan de Graf and around 3,000 Swiss mercenaries who had changed sides after Welford. This was an unprecedented force, not since Henry V had such an army been assembled for the task of waging war in Europe. By this time Norfolk and Prince Richard had cleared the Rosita from its position at the mouth of Calais harbour and cleared the way for the royal army to arrive.

By the end of August the Royal Army had made its crossing to Calais safely under the watch of Norfolk, and Prince Richard joined his brother on shore. The French were powerless to stop these landings, their Genoese allies blowing hot and cold, and the French navy under-strength. Meanwhile the Duke of Orleans was still surrounding Calais with a force of around 10,000 men and conventional siege weaponry but only a handful of cannon. Early on the morning of the 15th of August a cavalry force of some 3000 men sallied from the gates of Calais led by Rivers and Edward V to drive off the besieging force. The French tried to hold their ground, trusting in their siege works to protect them, but the ferocity of the English charge, accompanied by some 10,000 foot soldiers under the command of Derby, Prince Richard and Richmond, broke the French line in under two hours. Orleans was able to retreat in fairly good order to Amiens, but lost 2,000 men and all of his artillery in the process.

Calais was safe, but the Treaty of Calais was not. In order to rescue it, Edward had to move swiftly. The Battle of Calais had bought him some breathing room, and exposed King Charles’ flank at Bruges, but Orleans was still on the loose and the autumn rains were coming. Taking a bold decision, Edward and his army of 20,000 men left Calais on the 18th of August marching east along the coast, and shadowed by the Royal navy. In Calais Edward left Hastings with a well supplied garrison of 2,000 men and also destroyed a few local bridges to slow down any French counter-attack.

Within two days the English army was at Ostend, and liberated the port. Charles finally realised the threat to his position and struck camp whilst sending desperate instructions to his brother Louis of Orleans to protect his retreat. However Edward’s advance had been too quick, and Chalres foolishly chose to attempt to bring his expensive new cannons with him. Perhaps inevitably, Charles was cut off near the village of Torhout and battle was joined on the 22nd of August.

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

For all the significance of the battle of Torhout, there are remarkably few confirmed details on the events of the day with English, French and Burgundian chroniclers all diverging from each other. The most reliable narrative has the English army occupying a low rise to the west of the main road south from Bruges. From a modern tour of the village it is possible to recognise this low ridge with a copse of trees on the southern end. Also remarkable is the pocket castle of Wijendale at the northern end of the ridge. Records show that this castle was built in 1490, although it would have had little defensive qualities. Wijnendale was built with large windows and a stone bridge crossing a narrow circular moat, and could have maybe held around 100 bowmen or handgunners at a squeeze. Instead the Castle was reportedly used as storage for the baggage train and to anchor the left hand end of the English line, supposedly commanded by Derby. Rivers commanded the right hand wing near the woods with the centre, commanded by Edward given some defence from the ditch/ stream south of the Castle.

At some point during the middle of the day the French army, with around 22,000 men began to take fire from the direction of the Castle as they came into the village of Torhout. French sources claim that Charles was prepared for this and formed his army up in good order to drive off the English, leaving the baggage and cannon safely in the village. In contrast English chroniclers have Charles responding in a panic and leaving his baggage exposed to launch a desperate sally across the country in poor order. As expected, the consensus has fallen somewhere in the middle; Charles certainly was taken by surprise, the English partly concealed by trees, and certainly had no choice but to give battle. It is also fair to say that the French were perhaps unprepared for battle after 3 months surrounding Bruges, and now being forced to dash back to friendly territory. Comparatively the English were most likely fired up for battle; Edward had already won two battles against the French and their allies, they would have been confident in his abilities. In the final analysis the Count of Montpensier led a charge into the copse hoping to stop the English fire (it is suggested that these were light culverins and longbows, although it is likely they were mounted longbows). However Montpensier’s charge failed and he was killed, although how this occurred is not clear through any account. What is clear is that very soon, the French army was in complete disarray and was attacked on three sides; best guesses suggest that Rivers’ wing folded round to flank the main French army which was fixed by Edward’s centre.

What is clear that at some point the French baggage train was raided and looted by a flying column led by the Earl of Richmond, a task he seems to have been becoming especially proficient in. Doubtless this development is what caused the French army to finally fold, what men who could escape fleeing to the south and south east.

All told the Battle of Torhout could not have lasted more than three or four hours and was precipitated by an attack on the French column from a partially concealed position. How organised the French response was is open to debate but it is clear that Montpensier was killed in the counter attack, the French column enveloped and their baggage taken. French losses were anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 whilst English losses were correspondingly light and no major deaths were recorded, with approximately 500 to 1,000 losses. What is clear is that Charles’ army and his plan lay in tatters whilst the English were able to return to Calais victorious by the start of September.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

The autumn and winter of 1490 saw the first English Parliament held outside London for many years. The ‘Canterbury Parliament’ was a necessity for Edward, but the situation with France meant that it could not be held at Westminster Hall. Instead the King traveled to Canterbury, braving the declining conditions in the channel. Rivers, Prince Richard and Johan de Graff were left in Calais with a sizable standing army of around 6,000 throughout the winter whilst the remaining Magnates returned home to oversee the harvest.

Nonetheless Edward called Parliament for Canterbury before All Hallow’s Eve and it would last for three weeks with Lord FitzWalter as speaker. The purpose was rather perfunctory; Edward needed taxation and pledges of support for the coming war with France when the campaigning season began again in Spring. It might be imagined that simply being at war would be enough to grant Edward the resources he needed, but KB McFarlane has shown that this was by no means a given in late Medieval Parliaments, even Edward IV at the height of his power had to be careful not to overreach his arm. There was also the issue of the previous spring’s response from the localities to taxation which had contributed to the Remnant Rebellion.

However to prevent further Tax rebellions Edward sought Benevolences and loans from the Church to go with the rather meagre taxation he levied on the commons, and in this regard he was singularly successful. Benevolences had been a tool which the King’s father had used to extract cash from the nobility; essentially forced loans with very little prospect of repayment. Their unpopularity had prevented their liberal use in the late Edward IV years and the start of Edward V’s reign. However given the remarkable battlefield success - and divine sanction of the King which could be inferred - and the fact that France was clearly the aggressor helped Edward to accrue almost £100,000 in Benevolences alone. Edward’s cause was also helped by his appointment of Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath to the Archbishopric of Canterbury in 1487. Stillington knew which side his bread was buttered, and his life long association with Richard of Gloucester enabled him to find a £40,000 loan for the King’s new army from the Church. Finally the Earl Rivers was able to use his European contacts to secure further lines of credit from a number of Italian Banking houses, including the Medici, taking the royal coffers to somewhere in the region of £200,000, an astronomical sum which would be put to good use. The intervention of the Italian Banks would herald another new area of focus for King Edward in the years to come.

The Battle of Torhout had shown Edward the physical strength and prowess of English arms, but it had also isolated their weaknesses. The English army were still rather reliant on the longbow and corresponding plate armour for the men-at-arms. Eminently fine equipment which had served the crown well for centuries, but Torhout had shown the advantages of swift cavalry and well-made cannon, although Charles had not been able to field his new-weaponry. What is more, the English had captured almost all of Charles’ Culverins, Serpentines and demi-cannon after the battle of Torhout, fine machines which were immediately copied and replicated by the foundries across the south-east of England, paid for by the spoils of war and the large sums of money gathered at Canterbury. Next time the English would have their own powerful cannon to rival that of the French.

As for horse, agents were dispatched to Castile to purchase the finest breeding stock of horses to expand the capabilities of the Royal Stables. The stables themselves were placed in control of the new master of horse Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who was earning a reputation for himself as a fearless Chivalric Knight bravely charging into the enemy ranks, but one with as much intelligence as bravado. His role was to develop the Royal stables but also new cavalry tactics and he would soon earn the nickname of the ‘Flying Earl’. All of these developments were slow to get started but would certainly bear fruit within a year, and especially so into the new century.

Once funds had been secured, and arrangements for new arms set in motion, the Canterbury Parliament had little official role remaining, it was after all intended to respond to the crisis of the French War and little else. However there have been many rumours and speculation since, that the fringes of the Parliament were also used to plan the coming seasons’ campaign. Edward was almost spoiled by the choices laid open to him; both Brittany and Burgundy wanted to be involved in the inevitable counterattack against France and Charles VIII. He could clearly strike from Calais towards Paris or choose to reclaim the Plantagenet homeland of Normandy. It probably never occurred to many of the assembled Lords what the young King would do next.
Chapter 9: 1491 The Reckoning

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

The campaigning began early in 1491, Edward V was keen to end the war quickly and decisively. He certainly had the resources to do so. De Graff’s Mercenary contingent now numbered some 6,000 Swiss pikes to which were added 1,000 light Breton horse, 500 Burgundian Handgunners and crossbowmen and a large English force taking the total army to around 30,000 - it was the largest English Army since Towton. Gloucester and Hastings, along with Dorset, Jasper Tudor and Pembroke had remained in England to hold the fort, and Norfolk patrolled the channel, but this still left some ten plus major magnates and 30 or so smaller Lords to accompany the King. Mancini, who cannot have been happy about being dragged on campaign with his Lord, likened the Royal army to that of Israel marching to claim the promised land and that of King Arthur sallying forth to claim his vengeance with honour.

But just where was this ‘promised land’? That must have been the question Charles VIII asked himself as spring arrived. Charles had rebuilt his army since the previous Summer but had been unable to replace as many of his cannon, though the effort had left the French peasantry destitute and fractious. Edward V had the initiative and he could have strengthened Burgundy, taken Calais or even marched on Paris itself to draw out the French. The English army reached Amiens in mid-March completely unopposed. It was here that news reached Edward of what must have been part of his plan - Duke Francis had launched raids into Anjou and Maine, burning any undefended villages they could find. Simultaneously, in an event which could not have been planned by Edward, a rebellion erupted in Languedoc against the King’s taxation and ‘misrule’ which would also distract the French.

This news only spurred Edward on and within a week he had reached Compiegne some 30 miles from Paris, his army reduced to around 25,000 through garrisons and attrition. Charles then made his move. It is debatable whether Charles dithered or merely allowed Edward to extend his supply lines, but it is possible that he planned to trap the English as the Duke of Orleans arrived with reinforcement from the south. Regardless of whether Charles intended this his numerically superior army forced Edward to order the retreat back to Arras.

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

The retreat from Compiegene could easily be explained by Edward V’s youth and inexperience - he was brash and too eager to destroy the French and now his army was pursued by a larger force, estimates ranging from 25,000 to 40,000 men, albeit they were perhaps less experienced. Now the English army was marching with all haste northwards.

Then on the 2nd of April, the English army stopped, they made camp near the village of Montdidier in the Somme and waited. Like Torhout before it, the Battle of Montdidier has been subject to much debate owing to a lack of clear accounts of the battle from a range of English, Burgundian and French sources, even Mancini who by all measures was present is even vague in many respects. However it is possible to reach some conclusions.

A visitor to Montdider today will find rolling wheat fields running north into the valley formed by the Avre river which causes the field to narrow to a point. Modern archaeology has shown that in 1491 this river would have restricted movement considerably and it would have been difficult for a large army to pass swiftly in this direction. This has led to two theses; that Edward’s actions represent a blunder - and he was forced to give battle as his army was trapped by the terrain or the enemy. Alternatively, that Edward had spotted this ground on the march south and had deliberately chosen this location to destroy his enemy. What is clear is that Europe would never be the same again.

On the morning of the 4th of April the French army arrived and immediately made ready for battle. They were devoid of cannon after their swift chase, and relied on their cavalry to swiftly puncture the English line and rout them. The majority of the French infantry are thought to have been a mix of professional and peasant soldiers, some of whom had been levied from the countryside around Paris and Orleans, they must have made for an intimidating sight but their quality was in question.

For the English’s part they had formed their army up along the Avre river with it anchoring their left, eastern flank as they faced the French to the south. Again Archaeological surveys have shown good evidence of English cannon on the eastern side of the Avre, with some suggesting that there were even earthworks dug for them, although GPR has proved inconclusive. Mancini reports that ‘the King was mighty eager to admonish the French king and prepared his army in three battles with the Earl Rivers in the van (right flank), himself in the centre and Derby and Lord Grantham holding the rearguard (left flank).’ Richmond was held in reserve with the horse. Little is known of the French dispositions, Mancini records that ‘they came on like a rabble’, although it is possible to surmise that Orleans led the French vanguard.

When battle was finally joined it was truly a unique moment; the English fielding cannon in the ‘modern’ manner for the first time. Most commentators record that the initial French charge had been slowed by withering Cannon fire and also English ‘earthworks’ although no such evidence has been found, it is entirely possible that the English had sown caltrops and other defences. Thus frustrated, the French infantry entered the fray on all fronts, and it seems this was the moment in which Edward played his hand. The Flying Earl, Henry Tudor, led his cavalry through a gap (likely created for this purpose) in the English rear between the King and the Earl of Derby thus breaking the French vanguard and setting them to flight. Doubtless seeing the cream of their army turn tail and run, loosened the resolve of the remaining French infantry who also disengaged from the English. At this moment the Breton cavalry appeared behind the French vanguard, having crossed the Avre at a predetermined point and brought about a stunning coup; Louis of Orleans, the King’s cousin and heir, had been captured.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

The Battle of Montdidier could not have lasted longer than four or five hours, but it has generated years of debate. Was the battle a pre-arranged plan by Edward V or was it a desperate gamble that unbelievably paid off? A few pieces of evidence may harbour clues. The English had established their Cannon beyond the Avre and French hands, this must have been a preplanned move. Secondly Henry Tudor’s charge, though typical of his reputation, was extremely unconventional in that it came effectively through the English line during the battle - an extremely risky move unless the ground had been prepared and the tactic rehearsed. Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, the original march to Compiegene was without the usual heavy baggage train, with most academics explaining this away as Edward’s rash nature, yet what if it was planned? What if Edward V wanted to create the impression of disarray and weakness, only to have the French Army stumble straight into his carefully laid plans?

Alas there is no firm consensus, but I would suggest that Edward’s excellent teachers; Rivers, Gloucester, Hastings, Manicini and of course his father, had taught the boy well and Montdidier was the fruition of all these efforts. Regardless of the circumstances of the battle it is possible to see it as the foundation stone of the new Yorkist age; if Torhout checked French ambitions, Montdidier shattered them and asserted English ones over them for at least a generation. Charles VIII - increasingly gaining notoriety for his spineless response to misfortune - fled with his still relatively intact army back to Paris, it is thought they lost around 8,000 men at Montdidier but that around half were captured with another two Barons and around 20 knights joining Orleans in captivity. With his army victorious and his captives in tow, Edward V made for the most unexpected of destinations; Reims

Youngblood by Bernard Cornwell (2009)

Silence. Solemnity. Stillness. These were not usually the things which accompanied a King’s coronation. But this was no ordinary coronation. Edward walked slowly to the top of the central aisle of Reims Cathedral, the large vaulted space packed with his soldiers; Swiss, Flemish, Breton, Welsh, English. No French. They were outside, their faint murmur contained by the thick walls of the Cathedral - some cheered, others yelled obscenities at the King of England who would be King of France.

As he reached the top of the aisle the choir began its shrill chorus from the far end - Edward could see Archbishop Robert who had arrived mere days before to perform the ceremony. Next to him sat the large stone throne upon which the Kings of France had been crowned for centuries, it seemed almost eerie to him that they were here, amidst the foreign footsteps of History. Then he steeled himself, this was his idea, the kind of audacious thing his father had done in his youth, he would be proud.

Edward neared the front of the Cathedral, the heads of his army turning towards him as he passed - the Welsh gentry, English Yeomen, De Graff and his officers in their black and white livery, then the Lords; Grantham, Talbot, Egremont, Lisle, Vernon, Bacon, Selby, Grey, Howard, Paston and the rest. Then the Nobles; Hull, Westmoreland, Arundel. The Falcons were next, what few had made it; just Warwick and Lincoln. Then his family; Rivers and his brother Richard, who alone beamed from his tall lean face. Across the aisle stood the French Lords, Orleans at their head, his dark features accentuated by the bitterness in his eyes, he cannot have been happy at the spectacle but he had little choice, his captors bid him be here and so here he was. At least that was not how they would portray it to the French commons, here were French Nobles, giving assent to their ‘rightful’ King. Image was important. Edward gave a curt respectful nod to the Duke of Orleans and grinned inwardly as the man’s intense stare only deepened. Edward ascended to his throne.

The ceremony went on and on. It was important Edward knew, but he would much rather find a good ale and a good woman with John, Richard and Edward than be here. Archbishop Robert had little time to read up on the required liturgy and his French was a little off in places, another thing to annoy Orleans and his greasy knot of companions. Edward sat straight for the whole interminable period, his gaze fixed on the back of the Cathedral, his features as firm as the throne he sat on. Then finally he caught the Archbishop’s French - he had been taught it as soon as he could speak English ‘In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, I proclaim you King’. The Archbishop turned slowly towards Edward, the Crown held in his hands. It wasn’t the proper French Crown, but the Smiths had done a good job with what they had, it certainly looked fit for a King, a French King at least.

As the Golden circlet touched his well-groomed hair the chamber erupted with the cheers and applause of his men, the enormous organ started up again and the choirs sang the gloria. Not bad for a day’s work he thought, as Edward, King of England and France, Lord of Wales and Ireland descended from the throne to the acclaim of his brothers in arms.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

Edward V was crowned King of France in Reims Cathedral on St Mark’s day 1491, a mere three weeks after Montdidier. This was a remarkable and completely unexpected achievement from the young King. He had not only used Orleans as a bargaining chip to gain entry to Reims but secure enough assent from the people of the city to safely carry out a coronation in the most symbolic of places.

To modern eyes the coronation would seem to be mere hubris and folly, but Edward V had read his History and understood the reality which faced him. Even his father had claimed the French throne upon his invasion in 1475, albeit to drop it during later negotiations at Picquingy, but this had been a common tactic of English monarchs for generations. Of course there were still quiet questions in some quarters over Edward’s claim to the English throne, let alone the French throne (through the Plantagenet line) but this in reality mattered little. What truly mattered to Edward was the symbolism; he had defeated Charles VIII in battle, taken his heir hostage, and had marched unopposed into the Ancient city of Reims where French kings had been crowned for almost 1000 years and made himself King of France. The political momentum, and more importantly the apparent divine sanction of the almighty, was firmly in his favour.

Sadly the mood in France cannot be adequately measured at such a remove of time. Most French accounts labelled Edward a tyrant and usurper, although a few are enlightening in being silent on Charles VIII’s conduct. Mancini’s account of the coronation is the typically gushing account you would expect of the King’s former Tutor and the Keeper of the Royal Scroll. Perhaps most helpful is the Crowland Continuation recorded back in the fens of East Anglia who merely wrote that ‘the French lords and commons merely sat as a stone with the changing of the tide.’

Why did Edward do such a thing? His position was covered by his and the Burgundian armies, but still Reims was a rather extreme stretch, not to mention the fact that his claim was almost sterile in reality - very few French would adhere to it. The simple reality is that Edward most likely wanted to make a statement, as his father had when he claimed the English throne, but also required an important bargaining chip in his favour when negotiations finally began with Charles, it would certainly prove to be a strong card in his hand.

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

Within a week of the coronation, Charles VIII had received the news from Reims, and dispatched Cardinal Tessier to entreat with King Edward. A meeting was held at Amiens in May and June of 1491 to end hostilities. There was little that Charles could do; his army had been defeated twice in the field with much loss of men and treasure, not to mention cannon. The raids on Anjou and Maine had abated but the region was badly damaged, and Longuedoc had finally been brought to heel but at cost. France was exhausted, demoralised and the people began to speak of God abandoning the country once more to the English, Charles had to capitulate.

Edward V had three aces up his sleeve; his recent coronation, the hostages he held, and the presence of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian who had arrived from east of his Empire in time for the negotiations. In retaliation Charles had very little; no army, nor resources and as the aggressor he would have to pay off the victors any way he could. The negotiations were also unusual in that Charles was entreating with Edward, Maximillian and Breton representatives on an equal footing. It would appear that Brittany gained the least although Francis certainly had no reason to be dissatisfied.

The Treaty of Amiens almost broke Charles. In exchange for the return of his cousin, the other prisoners and a seven year truce he was forced to cede the counties of Artois and Boulogne to England and the smaller Marne to Burgundy with Brittany gaining all land within five leagues (around 25kms) of St Malo. ‘La Cinqiem’ as it became known was to act as a buffer between the Breton port and French territory. Charles also had to pay an £11,000 bond for each year of the truce as guarantee of his good behaviour. All of this was gained without Edward relinquishing his claim to the French throne, which reportedly threatened to derail the negotiations more than once. In the end a deeply controversial compromise was reached; Edward would relinquish his claim to the French throne - dispatching Robert Stilllington to Rome to receive an annulment - in exchange for France relinquishing all claims of suzerainty and overlordship to Brittany, La Cinqiem, Boulogne, Artois, Calais, Marne, and all current territory of the Duchy of Burgundy.

This was an astonishing turn of events; all of these lands would henceforth be off-limits to the French Crown, yet Charles was forced to pay such a steep price to prevent an existential crisis at the heart of his kingship. Edward’s claim may have been bogus, but given later events, it is possible to suggest that Charles was beginning to see threats to his claim from inside his family, and he needed to remove Edward from the game in order to strengthen his position. Whether this was too steep a price to pay, only time would tell.

The Treaty of Amiens was ratified by Mid-summer 1491 and it was a resounding success for the Treaty of Calais partnership. It gave cast-iron protection to the ever suffering Brittany and Burgundy and gave England a secure foothold around Calais, not to mention some fine hunting land and a greater in-road to the continental textile trade. To Duke Francis, lying on his deathbed, the news reached him before he passed, surely adding comfort to his death. The Treaty also marked a line underneath the endless wars of the Middle Ages - the three realms’ position being so strong that further conflicts in northern Europe would be sporadic and light for at least a decade or two.

Some have questioned why Edward did not ask for more sentimental lands such as Normandy, Gascony or Aquitaine, yet such questions ignore the fact that Edward had learnt from History. All of these territories were more distant from England, and hard to retain, the Pas de Calais was much more self-contained, and of course was protected on its flank by Burgundy and Prince Richard’s holdings around Ostend. Again it was another shrewd move by the Yorkist King who had proved beyond doubt that he was a capable soldier and politician for the new century.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

Edward and the royal party finally returned to England in September of 1491 having spent the intervening months touring his new lands around Calais and carrying out the King’s justice. Edward, also like his father, took a keen eye in local affairs and made it his business to learn all that there was to know about the two new counties and the people who lived there.

The mood in England was nothing short of jubilant, especially as the King returned home to an heir; Prince Edward of Eltham was born in August 1491, yet another sign of hope for the Yorkist dynasty. The Prince made an appearance during the King’s triumphant entry to London - his father proudly carrying him across London Bridge on his war-horse surrounded by the Falcons and Rivers.

This mood continued into the Parliament of that year - giving it the name of the Parliament of the Bells - for the incessant ringing across London and, if we believe Mancini, every town, village, and hovel of the realm. The Parliament was delayed until October and it is clear from the mammoth amount of business passed that it was to prepare matters. Edward had much to discuss; there had not been a formal Parliament since 1488 and Edward had to reward those loyal servants from the War of French Aggression, and enact many changes he had decided on in that time.

First Edward of Eltham was invested as Duke of Cornwall, and a household was created for him. Then the spoils of war were awarded. To Jasper Tudor, the title Earl Hereford and the position as leader of the Council of Wales was given cementing his place in the governance of Wales, he also benefited from some of the land of William Stanley into the bargain. To Edward of Warwick a marriage to Alice Scrope with all her inherited land, and a more prominent position on the Council of the North. Both of these men had come from the political wilderness of disgrace in the early 1480s and Edward’s rewards came after their loyal service in Wales and France. Rivers was affirmed in his role as Constable and Marshall of England, and also made Count of Boulogne with responsibility for maintaining the border. Prince Richard became Captain of Calais and Count of Artois to add to his land around Ostend - he was developing a nice European pocket for himself - something which would make him one of the most cosmopolitan (some would say eccentric) members of the Yorkist household for years to come.

Other rewards fell to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, who was to be married to the King’s sister Anne and receive some of the rebel lands in the north, as well as being given the title of Warden of the East March from Gloucester. Derby was given the west march for his services at Welford and Montdidier, although little land, that of his brother being parcelled out to Hereford, Pembroke and a few lords in the midlands. The removal of the marches from Gloucester heralded the end of his direct involvement in the north for over twenty years. His son, now Earl of Pembroke, would take on his responsibilities.

It seems Gloucester was not well by this point. Much speculation has been made to his spinal defect, although this is only alluded to in sources, regardless it seems that Gloucester was waning. The Parliament rolls make record of the King’s tribute to ‘our dear uncle Gloucester’ and his receipt of a £200 annual pension. Gloucester was relieved of his position as Lord Protector, a role he had held for over eight years. Gloucester was replaced by the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor. Tudor’s assent from political exile to Protector of the Realm in a mere decade was astronomical. His efforts in all three of the major campaigns of the war, where he made decisive charges on at least two occasions, surely contributed to his position. It must also be said that Richmond was also gaining a reputation for shrewdness to match his King, and he had a particular eye for accounts which would be invaluable as Lord Protector.

Final smaller rewards were made to Lincoln and James Stanley. Lincoln was the newly created Seneschal of Calais, with responsibility for the Castle and the surrounding lands, directly under Prince Richard. James Stanley was made Lord Oswestry and given some marcher land around Shropshire, highly irregular given that he was also Bishop of Worcester, but he had fought at Montdidier so perhaps Edward was willing to look the other way.

Lord Oswestry/Bishop Worcester was also given the task of entreating with Scotland. James IV had ascended the throne a year after Edward V but had spent the first few years securing his position against over-mighty magnates. This was fortunate given the Yorkist distraction in France, but now Edward knew he could not ignore the Scots any longer; Oswestry was sent north with a marriage alliance proposal after the Parliament ended.

The endless rewards and titles would have been enough for any Parliament, but Edward V was not spent and a raft of other legislation was passed, all of it spread by Caxton’s presses to the four corners of England, Wales, Ireland and France. The Code of Laws, confusingly named, was an important milestone in the English language; all laws (excusing those concerning the Church) were now to be codified in English, as were the Rolls of Parliament, French having declined in use amongst English elites. Alongside this, Edward began offering patronage to authors and scholars to translate classics into English; John Rous, Thomas Malory, John Caius the Elder, Henry Brinklow, and of course William Caxton all took on projects and before long books printed in English were becoming increasingly common across the realm.

Another vital ‘code’ of the Parliament was the Code of Seneschals. Here Edward defined more readily the roles, responsibilities, and most importantly the limits of the King’s Seneschals. This allowed them greater clarity in collecting taxes and mustering armed forces. The code also instituted the order of array, a royal writ required by any man to muster a force larger than 20 men. These empowered the Seneschals but also allowed Edward to control who could array soldiers, and charge them for the privilege of course. This and other measures helped to contribute to greater strength in the localities in the years after the Remnant Rebellion.

Financially Edward was wary of taxation, but so lucrative was the French War that he could use his booty to secure further lines of credit with the Church and Italian banks. The biggest boone were the new French lands which effectively paid for themselves with the Wool trade they encouraged and even textile industries in Arras and Lens.

Legally the Justices of the Peace, Seneschals and the Star Chamber had all been very effective in tidying up from the Remnant Rebellion, but Edward had become aware that one legitimate grievance had been the inaccessibility of the King’s laws to the upper peasantry, the yeomanry, many of whom had fought in France. Consequently the Court of Requests was created as a touring judiciary designed for use by those outside of the nobility, penalties were small, but so were the costs for using them. Skidmore demonstrated that this court alone perhaps accounted for as much as a 50% decline in local petty crimes over the next twenty years.

With the Parliament dragging into late November, Edward had two minor late additions which appear as after-thoughts but had immense long term repercussions for England. Such had been Richmond’s success as Master of Horse, that a Master of Arms was created with Lord Grantham taking the position. His remit was to investigate three new types of weaponry Edward had witnessed on the continent; Pikes (Edward had been very impressed by the Swiss Mercenaries), Handguns and larger cannons. Granthams enlarged coffers after Amiens, and the greater access he had to Europe, allowed him to make great progress in the coming years.

Finally, Edward V made good on a promise he had made years earlier. Christopher Columbus had intended to sail west in search of a new route to India in 1490, but the war had scotched his plans. Edward’s last act of the Parliament of the Bells was the commissioning of Columbus to ‘make all preparations for such an undertaking as to discover a new route to the spice islands no later than Pentecost of the coming year. Columbus had just five months, but he already had two ships and half a crew, Norfolk as Admiral of England and the Merchant Adventurers Guild were mobilised to assist him in his efforts which would drive the Yorkists to their next challenge.

Chapter 10: 1492: Into the unknown

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

After many years of preparation, planning and begging, Columbus was finally ready. His small fleet of three ships left Portsmouth on Palm Sunday 1492. The largest ship, the ‘Saint Anne’, was captained by Columbus himself and he was accompanied by ‘The Lady of Havant’ and ‘Adventurer’ this third ship being led by Sir Thomas Bradbury of the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild and sponsored by Edward V himself.

The keen interest of the new monarch, and his father before, is widely considered to be the main reason why Columbus spurned opportunities of greater patrons in the previous years. Isabella and Ferdinand, not to mention the Holy Roman Emperor, tried to convince Columbus to switch allegiance to them, but it is believed his personal friendship with the York family and the early support he had received, kept him loyal.

The fleet carried an extremely mixed crew; Genoese, Aragonese, Burgundian, English, even a handful of Welshmen were aboard the Adventurer, although Columbus himself possessed the royal writ granting him command of the flotilla. In retrospect it is possible to see that Sir Thomas Bradbury acted as Columbus’ second in command and Edward V’s personal eyes and ears. The early months of the voyage did not go smoothly, the three ships having to dodge French interference in the channel and then being dispersed by a storm in the Bay of Biscay before regrouping in the Azores where a stand-off with Portugese officials delayed the voyage until early June. Undeterred Columbus pushed on, believing the Spice Islands to be a mere 4 weeks sail away, although he carried supplies for 12 weeks. However all seemed lost a few weeks later when a large storm sank the Lady of Havant and divided the other two, but within three days Columbus sighted another mast on the horizon; the Adventurer which was signalling that it had seen dry land.

Robert Chatham, lookout on board the Adventurer, is widely considered to be the first European ever to lay eyes on the New World when he spotted some narrow sand banks in the Carribean. Having met with the Saint Anne the two ships made land on a large wooded island on 3rd August 1492. Columbus insisted this was the Malacca Spice Islands, but Bradbury, well read and more cynical, named it in his logs as Nova Albion, New England (OTL Hispaniola). Columbus, believing he had discovered a new route to the East Indies dubbed the inhabitants ‘indians’ although they had little spice to trade. In honour of his patron Columbus named the bay St Edward’s bay and the small village they discovered Yorkstown (OTL Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic).

Initial relations with the locals were positive and Bradbury recorded that a great feast was held in their honour, although communication was difficult. It seems there was a disagreement between Columbus and Bradbury; Columbus wanted to take some of the native ‘indians’ as slaves, but Bradbury was reticent, what with supplies low and his appetite for slavery a lot lower than that of the Geonese sailor. Nevertheless, the two men were united in their distraction by the golden trinkets the local Magua tribes wore, and tried to discover the origin of these Gold to no avail.

In the end, although the cause is lost to History, the foreigners were attacked by the Maguana tribe. They were easily defeated by the gunpowder and steel of the Europeans and a few men were taken prisoner. Bradbury noticed that ‘there seems to be little metal work in the region, clay, bone and wood being the main materials.’ It was probably not lost to him that such people would be easy to conquer. Bradbury’s journal is one of the most valuable sources in all of History. The ‘Voyages to the Columbias’ first printed (by Caxton of course) in 1493 became an incredibly popular book detailing the discovery of the New World and the culture and appearance of the people who lived there.

Whilst Bradbury wrote his journal, Columbus completed a circumnavigation of the land, thereby proving that Nova Albion was an island. Nonetheless, eager to return with news of their discovery to England, the two remaining ships departed in September 1492. Columbus reportedly suspected other islands, and on the return journey detected a few smaller islets which later became part of the Norward Islands (OTL Turks and Caicos) although he did not make landfall. The victorious sailors returned to London in early December 1492 - just surviving a few winter storms. The St Anne was forced to put into Plymouth with damage, Columbus transferred to Adventurer wishing to tell the King personally of the new land.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

Many authors have tried to imagine Edward V’s reaction to the discovery of this strange new land. He certainly dreamed of Adventure, and it had captivated him at a young age. But it is impossible to imagine what he expected from Columbus’ voyage and what he thought of this distant island with its primitive people and mysterious Gold supply. Nonetheless we can surmise that Edward was fascinated with the New World as he commissioned Caxton to make prints of ‘Voyages to the Colombias’ with a larger illuminated version for himself complete with coloured illustrations from Bradbury’s sketches. ‘The Edward Edition’ can still be seen today in the National Library, and it is thought to contain the first images made of the New World by Europeans. Bradbury was particularly interested in the coverings and headdresses of the Magua Caciques (chieftains), especially that of Gamua who had welcomed them.

As for the naming of the islands - for surely there was more than one - Columbus continued to insist that he had discovered the Malacca Spice Islands whilst Bradbury, supported by English Mathematicians, showed that they had not covered the required distance and suggested that Nova Albion was a new land entirely. To win Columbus over, Edward ordered the Islands be known as the Columbias in his honour - and would be recorded as such in the Rolls of Parliament. The Parliament also issued writs to Bradbury and Columbus to return to the Columbias to conduct a wider survey and mapping of the area and in particular to discover the origin of the Gold on Nova Albion. This later aim got the particular interest of the Merchant Adventurers Company who Edward gave strict orders to locate and mine this Gold, allowing them to keep 15% of the findings and absorbing the rest into his coffers. Even with such a low cut, Bradbury’s tales did not fail to gather a great amount of popular support and interest in a second voyage and before long there were over 1,000 men, mostly second or third sons of Gentry, flocking to London to seek passage and their fortune.

All of these exploration efforts were supported by the year of consolidation which 1492 had been for Edward. Whilst Bradbury and Columbus sailed the high seas, Edward had enjoyed the first real peace he had had since ascending the throne. The Code of Laws and Code of Seneschals had been implemented across England, and the final remains of legal unrest been taken care of by the various Councils and the Court of Requests.

Edward had also been fortunate; his second son Richard of Bedford had been born in July, and both he and his older brother Edward of Eltham were said to be healthy young boys; Edward’s dynasty seemed secure. Furthermore, Lord Oswestry’s embassy to Scotland had been successful and King James IV married Catherine of York in summer 1492. As part of the marriage a seven year truce was agreed with Scotland as well as permission for Scottish ships to use Calais and Ostend for nominal fees. On top of this, Edward completely secured the north through the marriage of his other unmarried sister Anne to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Both of these unions would lock down the defenses of the north for many years to come, and so allow Edward V to concentrate on Europe and indeed the New World.

The only set-back in 1492 was the death of the Earl of Pembroke, Edward of Middleham, son of Richard of Gloucester. The young Earl had suffered through his entire life with various illnesses and it seems a fever took him, he was survived by his only son Richard of Hutton who was born mere weeks before his fathers’ death. This blow must surely have been hard on Gloucester, his own health failing, after the death of Duchess Anne in 1489. Middleham’s son, and his widow, fell into the care of Edward of Warwick, son of Clarence. Warwick had his main seat at Pontefract, and after the death of Edward of Middleham rose to prominence in the Council of the North, almost sharing leadership with John Fox. Some Kings may have feared this growing influence from the son of a traitor, but Warwick’s place on the fringes of the Falcons, his service in France, and the birth of his first son Henry in the autumn of 1492 cemented his dependability to Edward V. All things considered, this allowed the King to focus on matters abroad with a little more attention.
Chapter 11: 1493: The Prince of Harts

The Prince of Harts: Richard of Shrewsbury, T Borman 2012

When the phrase ‘Renaissance Man’ is used, there can be few examples better than Prince Richard of Shrewsbury, the ‘Prince of Harts.’ Richard’s nickname came from the symbol he sometimes used of a Hart rampant. This had previously been used by Richard II, but Richard of Shrewsbury used it to demonstrate his purity and fearlessness. It also incorporated the double entendre that the Prince was said to be quite the Heart-throb and womaniser.

Prince Richard so easily encapsulates the title of ‘Renaissance Man’ for his wide range of skills; Richard was a supreme figure on the battlefield, the reflection of his father and grandfather, and a cunning military tactician. Yet he was also well-read and had studied at the feet of Caxton and Mancini, he was said to be into poetry and plays and, allegedly, would perform them himself. He was further credited with being proficient of the Lyre and later the Harpsichord. Richard could speak English, French, Latin, Greek and Italian, and it was said his Flemish and Spanish was also passable. In short he was the total package. However the mystique around Prince Richard has only deepened since his death, and he has entered the halls of great English heroes.

Yet behind Richard’s impressive skills and outward appearance lays the personality of a rogue who never suffered under the shadow of his more powerful brother, a man who was determined to plot his own course, and not necessarily do what society expected of him. Richard carved a niche for himself in the arts and military service abroad; his cultural and cosmopolitan influences having a large impact on the world and England in particular.

Richard was just 19 when his wife Margaret of Austria died in 1493. Given her young age, they never consummated the marriage, however he still spent large amounts of his time around Artois and Ostend where he took great interest in the burgeoning cloth trade on ‘English’ soil. Thus still a teenager, and now a bachelor, Richard truly had the world at his feet and he took full advantage of it (after a suitable period of mourning of course), accompanying the Earl Rivers on his tour of the Holy Roman Empire, Switzerland and Italy throughout 1493.

The Royal party left Calais in early March and passed through the lowlnads - Prince Richard particularly interested in the cloth manufacturing at Antwerp. He would go on to utilise many of the methods he picked up here at Lens and Arras with the blessing of the Burgundian trading houses - their continued prosperity was after all partly thanks to English victories against the French. They celebrated Easter at Aachen with Emperor Maximilian, and spent some time hunting with him and the Elector Palatinate near Frankfurt. This was a more social-call than the other stops on the tour but it was always important to strengthen the Burgundian/Maximillian alliance, and surely this also allowed Richard and Maximillian time to grieve for Margaret.

Into Switzerland, Rivers especially spent time in Zurich discussing Swiss training for the Calais guards and other English soldiers in the use of the Swiss Pike. The introductions were made by Johan de Graff, the Mercenary commander at Torhout who had since served Edward and was commander of the Swiss Guards at the Tower of London by this time. By all accounts the venture was successful with Swiss weaponry and tactics being incorporated as elements of the English army for the next century. It is anecdotally recorded that Prince Richard took this opportunity to spar and train with some of the Confederacy’s finest soldiers, most notably Ulrich von Uri, and it would certainly fit with the Prince’s later military prowess.

However it was to be in Italy that Prince Richard’s most significant meetings of the trip took place. Rivers spent time in Milan making arrangements for supplies of plate armour for the Calais garrison, and also as a gift for King Edward. It is thought that Prince Richard here received his trademark white-silver armour which would come to define his battlefield prowess. Most significant in Milan was his meeting with Duce Gian Galleazo Sforza and his imposing uncle Ludovico. Of course contemporary sources probably exaggerate the brotherly love between Richard and Ludovico especially, but it is relatively safe to infer that the lifelong friendship between Richard and Ludovico would begin here. This friendship not only linked Italy and its Renaissance to England but would have a significant impact on Italian politics in the coming years.

By August 1493 Rivers and Prince Richard reached Florence, although it is unknown if they actually met Lorenzo the Magnificent, it is certain that at this stage the Prince of Harts met two men who would have an indelible impact upon his life; Savonarola and Macchiavelli. Savonraola was a Friar in San Marco and through his teaching (prophecy) against the corruption of the Church and its coming destruction gained quite a name for himself. It is thought, especially given his later religious leanings, that Prince Richard sought out the Friar himself, and he would return to Florence in Autumn 1493, wintering there and receiving teaching there. As for Macchiavelli, it is very possible that the two crossed paths during the initial visit and certainly later, but regardless the two men would form a lasting friendship with many scholars debating whether Macchiavelli’s The Prince is in fact dedicated to the Prince of Harts.

The final stop on the tour was Rome where the Royal pair arrived in time for the consecration of Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI in October 1492. Here Rivers formally asked the Pope for his blessing and received (after a suspected bribe) a Papal Bull to allow English settlement of the New World in exchange for taking the light of Christ to the pagan natives. This was the only overt time in which Borgia supported English designs across the Atlantic, and he would often side with his Spanish countrymen in later negotiations. Why he chose to support England at first is unclear, although he perhaps did not appreciate the importance of the New World to come. As for the Prince of Harts, there are no accurate records of his opinion of Rome and the new Pope, but given the reputations of both men, Richard cannot have been impressed, and it is unsurprising that he chose to spend the next 6 months in Florence studying with Savonarola and others.

The tour of 1493 marks the first time that Prince Richard was seen on the public stage in his own right - even his betrothal three years earlier was a carefully stage-managed political alliance. Now the Prince of Harts was free to exercise his own will and it seems he relished his image as the swashbuckling hero, vanquisher of the French and the hearts of many women; more than a few priests scandalously recorded his womanising. Richard’s greatest impact in Italy was not in the bedchamber but in the courts of power where he was able to ensconce himself in positions which would be of great import to England and the Italian states in the years to come.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

Christopher Columbus’ second journey to the New World departed London in February 1493. Comprised of 16 ships and over 2,000 men, Columbus carried with him Royal warrants to map and explore all the seas around Nova Albion, in this endeavor he was assisted by Lord Morley, Henry Parker, and Robert Wydow, a Dominican friar. These two men, as much as any other, would come to define Yorkist efforts to understand and map the new world, becoming famous for their cartography and translations respectively. Wydow had already begun to work on translating the Taino language spoken by the Maguana prisoners from the first expedition who had all since perished.

As for Sir Thomas Bradbury, newly created Lord Bradbury, he had personal instructions from Edward V and Norfolk for the establishment of an English settlement at Yorkstown and an expedition in search of Gold on the island. He was accompanied by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, who was to be appointed Governor and Seneschal of the island. Berners had grown up with Norfolk following his father’s death at Barnet and the two men had a strong affinity for exploration and seamanship. Conspiracy theories like to exaggerate claims of a secret compact between Bradbury, Berners and Norfolk, to cut Columbus out of any future settlement and credit. However a more rational theory is possible; from Bradbury’s correspondence surrounding his first two voyages, he clearly did not like Columbus and saw the man as vain,arrogant, and a sub-par seaman. Especially given later events, it is possible to conclude that these three did not trust Columbus and sought to minimise the damage he could cause to Albion, perhaps this is why Columbus was despatched to the surrounding Ocean far from Nova Albion.

The fleet arrived in Yorkstown in May 1493 to find a rather unexpected situation; Cacique Gamua had died, and his remaining tribe had become extremely nervous about the foreigners from the sea, refusing to meet with Bradbury. Columbus, with Morley and Wydow, took off in search of new lands leaving Bradbury and Berners to deal with the situation. Armed with around 1500 settlers/adventurers and modern weaponry, the men were able to establish the first fort at Cape Middleham to the north of Yorkstown and set out into the surrounding countryside in search of Gold.

The Yorkist explorers were successful in late summer when deposits of Gold were found near St Edward (OTL Santiago) along what became known as the Golden River. There was limited prospecting at this point, given the difficult mountainous terrain between St Edward and Yorkstown. Enough Gold was gathered to take back to England and prove its existence on Nova Albion whilst Lord Berners made preparations to construct a road and fortifications into the interior in the next year.

Columbus returned to Yorkstown in around August having completed a good survey of the surrounding areas, having circumnavigated Cove (Cuba), St John (Pureto Rico) and St Dominic (Jamaica) plus charting the location of the St Mark islands (Caymans OTL). Columbus had also reached a heavily jungled coastline which he was convinced were the Malacca islands, but his English companions were sure was another, vast, island. Wydow made reference to this land in his notes as Yucka (OTL Yucatan) but was rather disparaging towards Columbus’ suggestion and the lands’ prospects.

In contrast the other 3 main islands discovered were said to be ripe for English use. Cove in particular had many friendly natives, some of whom were encouraged to return to England. One of these natives, Armac (called John Brown in Europe), is thought to be one of the first native Columbians to learn English and was instrumental in Wydow’s translations between Taino-Arawak languages and English. On Cove (Cuba) Columbus had discovered a wide-secure bay which he named Green Bay (OTL Guantanamo) which was noted as the best natural harbour in the island chain. As for St John, the island was small, but Morley recorded that its position between England and Nova Albion made it a prime strategic sight. As for St Dominic, there was certainly land a plenty for settlement, but little else to make it remarkable at this stage.

The second voyage had been a resounding success. When Bradbury and Columbus returned to England in November 1493, their arrival was possibly even greater than that of the previous year; the men had brought back Gold, a few natives who could speak some English, and tales of rich agricultural land ripe for settlement. John Brown’s audience with King Edward V has gone down in legend, although it is unknown what they specifically discussed. Mancini records that ‘the King was most exercised to discover the richness of life in the west, its strange foods and precious metals, yet was much dismayed at the heresy of its people.’ This of course must be measured against Mancini’s legendary capacity for exaggeration of his liege, but nonetheless it fits Edward’s reactions well; with Rivers’ return from Rome with the Papal Bull ‘Procedo et Fortuno’ and Bradbury’s proof of Gold in the new world, Edward lent even greater energy for preparations the following year.

Chapter 12: 1494: The cat amongst the pigeons

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

Charles VIII had been licking his wounds during 1493. Despite all of his best efforts to assert his claims over Brittany, Burgundy and Calais he had lost all of them irretrievably and been forced into the humiliating peace of Amiens (1491) where he had agreed to a truce with England, Burgundy and Brittany, forced to abide to it for fear of Edward V once again asserting his claim to the throne of France. Spain was also out - Ferdinand and Isabella fresh from their completed Reconquista and riding high. That only left one location for Charles to pursue his ambition and redeem his image: Italy.

Fortunately Italy was a complex mess of rivalling states and dynasties in 1494. Charles had a long claim to the Kingdom of Naples, and another to the Duchy of Milan. Milan was uncertain given Duke Gian Galleazo Sforza’s illness and the control of his uncle Ludovico as regent, and Naples was more distant. Secondly the newly installed Pope Alexander VI was causing waves as he sought to enrich his children on the fat of Italian lands and Lorenzo ‘Il Magnifico’ had died in Florence in 1492 leaving Piero in control, a young man thoroughly unsuited to the power-politics Charles intended to play.

Therefore when Ferdinand I of Naples died in January 1494, Charles saw his moment to strike. Alfonso II, the new king, had unwisely chosen this moment to assert his claim over Milan in opposition to Ludovico Sforza’s machinations. Charles consequently saw his chance and hoped to find common cause with Ludovico against Naples, and planned to march through Italy, taking advantage of a distracted Pope and a weakened Florence. There was however one flaw in the plan: Prince Richard of Shrewsbury.

Prince Richard had spent the winter of 1493-1494 in Florence studying under Savonarola, although he often found time to visit Milan and Duke Ludovico. Ludovico has often been seen as a very cautious man, but with Gian Galleazo’s health failing, and his chance to seize Milan approaching, Ludovico must have appreciated Charles causing a distraction in Naples. Many historians (Benelli chief amongst them) have suggested that Ludovico was all but certain to sign an agreement with Charles when his representatives arrived in Milan in Spring 1494. However Prince Richard intervened; Richard had met Charkes at Amiens, and had been one of Louis of Orleans’ captors after Montdidier, he knew the two men and their abilities and more importantly he knew that Ludovico would be unwise to trust them. Ludovico therefore stayed his hand, and when Charles’ 25,000 men arrived in Savoy in September of 1494 they received only the support of Genoa.

Nonetheless the French made good time and steamrolled Lucca into submission by late October having already crushed a small Neapolitan force near Genoa. The French army thus approached Tuscany by November and it was here Piero de Medici had a decision to make. Unlike Milan, Florence could not prevaricate and fudge an answer to Charles, they either had to join him or resist him. It is possible to surmise that Prince Richard would have advised Piero to resist, just as he had Ludovico, but the English Prince did not enjoy as good a relationship with the Medici as he did the Sforza (perhaps because of the latter). Instead Piero dithered, and was unable to secure the support of the city or organise adequate defenses. Consequently Piero was forced to cave to French demands, the people rose against him, and the entire Medici dynasty fled the city.

What Prince Richard did next is open to interpretation, but his teacher Savonarola urged the people of Florence to establish a ‘popular’ Republic and prophesied that one day the city would become a ‘New Jerusalem’ and replace Rome as the centre of Christendom. With this he and his young followers began to purge the city of vice and corruption which they associated with the Medici, eventually establishing a Republic which Savonarola had influence over, though as a Friar he could not hold political office. It is sadly impossible to identify Prince Richard within these movements. His commentators are divided; Tracey Borman insists that Prince Richard was ‘as much the revolutionary as Savonarola was’ whilst George Barnard believed that Richard could not have become ‘such an ardent Republican in the space of a year.’ Nevertheless Savonarola’s preaching also included vehement attacks upon Charles (after he had departed for Naples of course) which many have suggested partly came from Richard, given his earlier advice to Milan.

Although we cannot judge any clear conclusions, Savonarola’s later pogroms against ‘drunken debauchery’ and ‘immodest dress’ could not have gone down well with Richard who was famed for both things and much more besides. Therefore this would explain why Richard is known to have left Florence before Christmas 1494 and headed north towards Milan.

Gian Galleazo Sforza died in November 1494 as Charles VIII entered Florence. He was succeeded, unusually, by his Uncle Ludovico Sforza who used a dowry to his niece to secure the Duchy of Milan for himself. Such was Ludovico’s distraction that he offered little opposition to Charles until he heard of the fall of Florence and the flight of Piero de Medici. By this point it was becoming clear to the Lords of Italy that Charles VIII and his army had become a ‘cat amongst pigeons’ as one anonymous chronicler poetically put it and something must be done about him.

A meeting in late December 1494 yielded the League of Venice; an anti-French alliance between Milan, Venice, the Papal States and Mantua. Spain, Brittany, the Holy Roman Empire and England were all similarly united in their dislike of France but all save Spain were prevented from action by the Treaty of Amiens and its truce. Therefore Edward V was unable to join the League of Venice, although he likely sent his blessing. Interestingly we do know now that Prince Richard was present at Venice and would have undoubtedly added his support, as were the Earls of Lincoln and Wiltshire. Whether these two men attended to support the League, or reign in Prince Richard is unclear, but if it was the latter then they were singularly unsuccessful.

Prince Richard’s name does not appear anywhere on the documentation relating to the initial League of Venice in 1494. England would join in 1498 after they were released from the Treaty of Amiens, although by this time they had their own Anti-French alliance. However it has been possible to see the Prince of Harts’ influence over the League; he was certainly instrumental in bringing Ludovico to the table, indeed in keeping him out of the French camp in the first place. That Ludovico was even willing to negotiate with forces he had previously been so antagonistic towards shows the level of the French threat, and Richard’s influence.

By the end of 1494 Charles VIII had taken his prize of Naples and forced Alfonso II into exile on Sicily. For the first time since he became King, one of his schemes had come to fruition and the French army was laden down with war booty. Yet once again Charles would face Yorkist opposition to his plans in the coming year.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

‘For God and Gold’ is how Colin MacLachlan has described the Yorkist project in the New World. Whilst this is rather over-simplistic, it nonetheless encapsulates the overt motivations of Edward V in 1494. He despatched Bradbury and Columbus back to the Columbia Islands with a large group of Friars, Brothers and Priests to tend to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of Nova Albion (both European and indigenous peoples) along with a significant number of settlers and miners destined for the Gold mines of St Edward. Whilst the religious motives were undoubtedly necessary to fulfill the Papal Bull of the previous year, and gain official recognition of English presence on the islands, it is debatable as to how far Edward V actually believed in this mission.

There has been much ink spilled discussing the piety of Edward V elsewhere, especially later in his reign, yet at this stage it seems safe to assume that he saw Nova Albion as little different to English holdings in Ireland and elsewhere, and therefore it should have been part of the Catholic Church. However it remains true that aside from encouraging various orders and individual clergy to go to Albion, Edward V seemed a lot more focused on the financial aspects of the new colony. The Merchant Adventurers Guild were supplied a sum of credit to fund Gold mining on Nova Albion and Edward also encouraged their colonisation efforts. When Lord Bradbury left London in Spring 1494 he took some 3,000 settlers with him. Unlike the mix of gentry, soldiers, engineers, adventurers and assortment of radicals in 1493, the 1494 colonists represented the first concerted attempt to settle European peasantry in the New World.

Dyer has estimated that around 2,000 of the colonists were mid to low level peasantry from the Welsh and Northern marches. A small number of these were criminals given the opportunity of going to Albion in exchange for a harsher sentence from the Royal Justiciars. Yet the majority were peasants in search of a better life - how far they were taken in by the promises of Gold and much richer, larger land is open to debate. Nevertheless the new settlers were split between 3 different settlements, with four ships left in the Columbias to maintain contact.

The largest number of settlers went to Nova Albion and set about the Gold Mines, as well as constructing the new road through the mountains to Yorkstown. This road allegedly used an existing track but the English built a fort at each end of the mountain pass to control access, and before long Gold was trickling back to Yorkstown and thence to England. Two new towns were founded on other Islands; Green Port (OTL Caimanera) on Cove (Cuba) and Bradbury (San Juan) on St John (Puerto Rico). These towns were not initially intended as agrarian settlements but trading hubs - the exotic fruit and native cotton of Cove in particular being of interest to the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild. Meanwhile Bradbury became an important military outpost with a deep port and the soon to be constructed Eltham Castle at its mouth.

The impact of these Europeans on the native populations is extremely controversial; the more vociferous ‘Black Legends’ suggest that the English systematically sought out and eradicated any native tribes in the areas they settled, corrupting the survivors with alcohol. Yet such Legends have recently been shown by O’Reilly and others to be exaggerated Spanish propaganda designed to undermine English presence in the area, and particularly in Rome. It is true that by 1494 the natives of Nova Albion had suffered a great number of deaths through disease with an estimated 40% of the population dead or dying. This would explain a large native raid on St Edward in the Summer of 1494, but it was easily repulsed by the plate and handguns of the English soldiers (including the first recorded use of a Cannon in the western hemisphere) which broke the back of remaining native resistance on the island (OTL Hispaniola).

Elsewhere the English did not pursue a policy on genocide, indeed on Cove the work of John Brown as ambassador was vital in establishing trade links with the natives. On St John, the local tribes were a little less supportive, but were still lured into trade in exchange for small metal trinkets. Nonetheless by Autumn 1494 the English were clearly there to stay. As for the religious aspect of the colonies, the various clergy established Churches in Yorkstown, St Edward, Green Port and Bradbury but they had limited success with the indigenous populations who were either dying, in open hostility, or disinterested.

Whilst Berners and Brabury established the new colonies and continued to map the smaller islands (the St Matthew (Bahamas) and St Luke (Virgin Island) Islands being discovered in 1494) Columbus sailed off in pursuit of further glory. Bradbury records in his journal that Columbus was becoming increasingly fractious by this point that the English Crown did not accept that he had reached the Spice Islands (that there was no Spice to trade did not deter Columbus). In retaliation it seems Columbus took five ships further west in 1494 from Yorktown, determined to find India, whether or not this was with Bradbury and Edward V’s blessing is unclear.

In any case Columbus returned to Yucka (Yucatan) and encountered the Aztec Empire replete with all its Gold and riches. Again Columbus declared these to be Indians, and again the English with him were not buying it. Columbus was determined, however, to gain the riches of this new land guessing (correctly it turns out) that the Gold reserves of the area were far in excess of those on Nova Albion. Columbus continued his search for the Gold of the Aztecs long past the date he should have turned back for Yorktown but to no avail. On this return journey he did encounter an entirely unexpected phenomenon; the Spanish fleet. Ferdinand and Isabella had been disappointed not to secure Columbus’ services and when news of his discoveries reached Spain they decided to launch their own expedition led by Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci arrived in the new world in June 1494 in search of a suspected great southern landmass in order to outmanoeuvre the English - they discovered a few smaller islands (OTL Trinidad and Tobago) and the coast of modern-day Venezuela and then bumped into Columbus.

Lord Morley, who was on board Columbus’ flagship St Dominic, records Columbus’ anger at meeting a rival, and mere greetings were exchanged. Columbus also had Morley hurriedly sign a declaration of ownership on the entire coastline he had discovered - naming it St Nicholas - to deny it to the Spanish. The legality of this declaration, and the ownership of the land, would cause much strife between England and Spain for years to come.

With Columbus’ late return to Yorkstown, much to Bradbury’s annoyance, the royal fleet returned to England in late summer 1494. Columbus’ delay meant that the ships sailed into the remains of a hurricane which sank 2 of the 14 returning ships and scattered the remainder. This had unexpected consequences when Sir Thomas Hawkyns, captain of the Margaret of Southwark discovered Fair Isle (OTL Bermuda) an uninhabited rock which had access to freshwater. Thus in one action Hawkyns solved the English issue of crossing the Atlantic without access to Spanish or Portuguese Islands.

The voyage of 1494 had been an unmitigated success for Bradbury and the Merchant Adventurers Guild; they had established four settlements across the sea, complete with Churches and fortifications, begun agriculture and gold extraction, defended the land from indigenous and Spanish intrusion and discovered yet more rich land in the west. It must therefore have come as a rude awakening when the fleet returned to London in November 1494; Columbus’ star was on the wane and the MAG now faced competition.

Sir Robert Chatham is widely thought to have been the European to sight the Columbian Islands from his lookout position on the Adventurer in 1492, for which he earned his knighthood. However Chatham’s personality clash with both Columbus and Bradbury wrote him out of future expeditions and he was forced to seek a new patron, finding it in the most unlikely of places. The Society of Merchant Venturers were based in Bristol, and did not enjoy the same royal patronage or profile of the Merchant Adventurers Guild, although they still enjoyed a fine trade between Ireland, Brittany, Castile and Portugal in the pre-Columbian world.

By 1494 the Society of Merchant Venturers had engaged Chatham to lead an expedition of six ships to the new world and establish their own trading posts. However the MAG blocked them from receiving a royal warrant for such a venture, believing it would undermine their own profits. Instead the SMV took the audacious risk of gaining a royal warrant to ply the northern ocean in search of new lands. Chatham worked from previous Norse rumour and old sea-wives tales to plot a journey across the northern atlantic in search of Greenland and Norse lands.

Chatham departed Bristol aboard the St Jordan in spring of 1494, a few weeks after Bradbury’s third voyage left for the Columbias. Chatham’s exact course is unknown, but he recorded that he sailed due west of Kinsale for almost 7 weeks before sighting land on the horizon. Chatham records that this land was flat but much less verdant than that he had seen in the Columbias. He still named it Greenland believing he had discovered the old Norse settlements when in fact it was a new landmass altogether (OTL Newfoundland).

Chatham continued to sail westwards down the coast and mapped the extensive inlets and bays which he discovered naming them New Norfolk (Nova Scotia), and New Avon (Maine - Massachusetts). Having reached a rather sheltered bay Chatham went ashore at a place he called Jordanstown (OTL Boston) and met with the indigenous tribes who were friendly. Chatham noted the abundance of timber, land and game in the region, not to mention the agreeable climate of Jordanstown which he undoubtedly planned as a future Colony of his own. Chatham’s fleet returned to Bristol in October 1494 being low on supplies and news of their new discovery invigorated the Society of Merchant Venturers, much to the chagrin of the MAG. At this point the different climate, and estimated distance between the two discoveries, suggested that both the Columbias and Norland (as the collective name for Chatham’s discoveries became known) were two separate land masses, which would only add more fuel to the exploration fire.

This news greeted Columbus when he returned to England in winter 1494, as well as Genoa’s support for Charles VIII in Italy. This revelation, alongside that of the Spanish arrival in the new world did not do Columbus any favours, but it was his continued attitude which did most damage to his reputation at Edward V’s court. Columbus continued to insist that if the Columbias were not the Spice Islands then Yucka and St Nicholas were surely those lands, despite the continued rejection of Lord Morley and Robert Wydow who had accompanied Columbus on both expeditions and maintained that these lands were hitherto undiscovered. When Bradbury testified to Edward V of Columbus’ continued bellicosity - and his lateness resulting in the loss of two ships in a storm, the Genoan’s fate must have been sealed. Therefore 1494 was an incredibly successful year for the Yorkists in the west, but the growing pains were beginning to show.

Chapter 13: 1495: The Sons in Splendor

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

War was coming to the Italian peninsula, and a Son of York was caught in the crosshairs. The declaration of the League of Venice in February 1495 took Charles VIII by surprise. He had over-wintered in Naples enjoying the spoils of war, and finally some sunshine, both literal and figurative. Thus the realisation that an alliance had formed against him - and blocked his passage home - was undoubtedly an unwelcome one. Charles immediately made preparations to leave Naples, with the Duke of Vincennes left in command, the French army finally departing in April.

Meanwhile the League of Venice were making their own preparations; an army of some 20,000 men was forming around Mantua, mostly comprised of Venetians and Mantuans under the command of Francesco Il Gonzago - the grizzled condottieri who controlled Mantua and the surrounding countryside.

Just as word reached Gonzago that the French had left Naples, he also received some unexpected support. Ludovico Sforza may have signed the League of Venice, but his aversion to Venetians, and his general reticence to commit led many to doubt his genuine sincerity. Such doubters were proved wrong when he marched into Mantua with some 8,000 men shortly before Easter 1495, and was accompanied by Prince Richard of Shrewsbury commanding his own company.

Many have speculated that Ludovico’s commitment to the League army was encouraged by his friend Richard, and the genuine concern he had for Milan’s place in the Italian political sphere if he allowed Venice to do all the fighting for him. Prince Richard was not present at the request of his brother, Edward V, indeed Mancini records that the King was ‘much displeased’ when he discovered that Richard had risked the truce of Amiens. However Richard’s actions did not provoke French revenge, they in fact won him fame and acclaim across Europe (excluding France of course).

The origins of the Piacenza company are obscure. They emerged in 1495 under an official license from Duke Ludovico, but there are little firm records beyond this document. Anecdotal evidence, even local legend, names this company as ‘the English Company’ although this of course would have been concealed by Yorkist scholars anxious to prevent a war. Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence suggests that the company was formed either for or by Prince Richard and that it took part in the 1495 campaign and included English, Welsh, Irish, Breton, Burgundian and Swiss soldiers amongst its ranks. Essentially the company had all the appearance of a rogish mercenary company, with the personnel of some of the great families of Europe, albeit 2nd and 3rd sons. The fact that the surviving arms of the company are a Stag rampant should probably be all the evidence required.

Nonetheless we know that Richard, along with Lincoln and Wiltshire, were present with the League army outside Mantua in late June when the French army arrived. Charles’ aim was simple; to escape Italy with his army and haul of treasure intact and make it back to France. The League were much less clear; the Venetian senate was reticent to engage the French army head on (despite having an almost 3 to 1 numbers advantage) and elected to harry and pursue Charles hoping to recover the Neapolitan treasure. Ludovico’s desires are unclear, although it is possible to surmise that he would have similarly opted to harry and disrupt rather than risk a total confrontation. Gonzago was much more keen for a scrap, and in this he was supported by Prince Richard; he had defeated Charles twice, a third time was surely possible.

Despite all the disagreement, Gonzago managed to get the League army, by now numbering 30,000 men to the French 15,000 to the village of Fornovo in the Taro valley camped above the village to the east of the river, and north of the bridge over it. On 4th July Charless VIII approached from the south-west and began to negotiate safe passage across the bridge and back to France. The League at least agreed that Charles would have to surrender all baggage and territory for this to be considered. Charles, having not learned to quit whilst he was ahead, refused these demands and continued negotiations, the Venetian delegation being more than happy to oblige, hoping to weaken the French by starvation.

As negotiations continued into the 5th of July, Gonzago ordered his forces to occupy the village and place cannon overlooking the bridge to deter Charles’ advance. This has long been considered Gonzago’s natural approach, but English academics have recently suggested Ricardian influence; Richard was present at Torhout when Charles was panicked by cannon fire across his line of approach, Gonzago’s tactic being strikingly similar. This had the desired effect; by the evening of 5th July Phillipe de Comines (travelling with the French army) records that supplies were getting dangerously low, and with a torrential downpour limiting visibility and neutralising the League’s guns, Charles decided to make a break for it.

The Battle of Fornovo commenced in the early hours of the 6th of July 1495, just before dawn. Charles gave Louis de Tremoile, one of his favourites, the Vanguard of the French army with the task of clearing the Fornovo bridge, himself leading the main body of the army with the baggage wagons bringing up the rear. Commines records that Charles intended to use speed and surprise to punch through Fornovo and have his army across the Taro, and defended with Swiss Pikes in the rear before Gonzago realised what was happening. In this he was aided by the rather dispersed nature of the League army; that had spread down the Taro valley for around five miles back towards Parma; the various elements of the army had been separated for logistical and harmony reasons but also reflected their leaders’ different stances (the Venetians were furthest from Fornovo).

Thus Louis de Tremoile was able to cross the Taro with little fuss, the Italian guns silenced by the rain. Commines records that Charles was halfway across the river himself when his plan began to unravel. The Italians may have been spread across the Taro valley, but there was one company who had occupied the Provinciali hill overlooking Fornovo, and who chose this moment to strike. The Piacenza company may have had only 500 mounted men in various states of armour, but when their charge thundered down the hill and clattered into the side of the French army their impact was apocalyptic. Charles, continuing his reputation for shoddy battlefield preparation, had not even realised that his flank was exposed and it sent his army into a wild panic.

Even Phillipe de Comines charitably records that Charles attempted to return to Fornovo only to be prevented by the weight of his own army. Following the initial charge, it is unknown what Prince Richard did next, but it is unlikely he stayed engaged in battle hopelessly outnumbered. However we do know that Gonzago was able to bring up reinforcements and used his own personal guard to try and plug the Fornovo Bridge. As the morning wore on, more and more Italian forces arrived and the French became increasingly bogged down on the wrong side of the river. In the final analysis the Italians were able to block the bridge and trap around 50% of the French army where they and their baggage train was mercilessly raided by the victorious League army. Charles was able to escape with around 7,000 men, but not his treasure, his territory, or his reputation.

The celebrations in Italy were jubilant; Pope Alexander VI himself held masses for all the victorious army - Gonzago and Venice getting most of the credit. After all, it seemed to them that a grave evil, even the devil himself if you listened to Savonarola, had passed through Italy and had been fought off. Of course the Neapolitan treasure helped to lift the mood, not that it was ever returned to Naples.

If Prince Richard was disappointed at the lack of acclaim he received from Italy at large, it was probably alleviated by his reward from the Duchy of Milan. Anna Sforza had been betrothed to Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara when she was a year old, they had finally married in 1491 and had not enjoyed a happy marriage. Alfonso was well-known for his lecherous and debauched nature, and did not approve of Anna’s ‘less feminine’ attributes; she wore men’s clothes, refused to ride side saddle, and generally failed to conform to the stereotypes of her era. Fortunately for her, Alfonso perished at Fornovo guarding the French baggage train, having been one of the few Italian lords to side with the French.

Anna Sforza and Richard of Shrewsbury were betrothed in Milan in September and married by the new year with the bride given away by her uncle Ludovico. Whether Edward V approved of this union is unknown. As well as a bride, Richard was given a handful of estates near Lake Maggiore. The union of York and Milan would be one of the defining events of Richard’s life; not only had he helped to defeat Charles VIII’s ambitions yet again, but his association with Italy was all but assured. Happily, the couple were said to enjoy life together; enjoying one another's' company and Richard allowing his wife to wear or do what she wished, within reason. The couple left for Oudenburg, Richard’s dowry from his first marriage, in the new year where Anna was more free to pursue her own eccentric tastes away from the prying eyes of Italian society and in the more tolerant low countries.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

Despite being absent, Edward V was affected by the Battle of Fornovo all the same. Firstly he cannot have been happy about Prince Richard’s rash actions involving himself with the campaign and then marrying without his permission. Secondly, the fact that Wiltshire and Lincoln had also involved themselves clearly incensed him; they were both fined a £500 benevolence and restricted to England for a year. However Edward V’s tempers were never extreme and England was fortunate with the position it found itself.

Charles once again had a bloody nose, that was surely good for English defences, and for all of Richard’s rashness he had established vital links to northern Italy which not only would further box in the French but allow for a greater cultural and economic exchange with England. Furthermore, Edward was said to be particularly intrigued by the League of Venice and immediately pursued a League of his own with Burgundy and Brittany. The resultant London League was signed in September 1495, within days of Richard’s betrothal to Anna Sforza.

The League was an upgrade on the Treaty of Calais; the three nations now agreeing to pursue a combined army in the event of war with France, and a combined strategy. Other provisions included economic non-competition, marriage alliances, and a Breton interest in the new world (Burgundy was busy with the Holy Roman Empire). The League of London further enforced English security and the anti-French entente for at least another decade. The only wrinkle was that Maximillian made it clear that he saw Burgundy as no longer his domain but that of his son Phillip, who attended the League signing in London aged seventeen. This did not immediately cause concerns, but the fact that Burgundy no longer automatically included the vast Holy Roman Empire weakened the League partially.

Elsewhere the League of Venice had an indirect religious impact on England. Fresh from his defeat of the French, Alexander VI thus used the League to increase the heat on Heretics across Europe; Hussites, Waldensians, Lollards, even the handful of Cathars, were all fair game for the Pope and he used the League to enforce his demands. Not only did the League signatories, including Spain, agree to step up actions against heresy, but they also would find it hard to trade with those realms which did not owing to Papal restrictions. Therefore Edward V had little choice but to more actively pursue the Lollards in England.

Lollardy had emerged from the teachings of John Wycliffe in the later 14th century. One Hundred years later the Lollards still remained in scattered groups across England, particularly the south east. Lollardy held that the Bible was the only source of teaching on Christianity, Wycliffe himself translating parts of the Bible into English. This stance strengthened and weakened the Lollards; they had clear beliefs in that they opposed any Catholic doctrine absent from the Bible, the Eucharist in particular. However the literate nature of the movement limited its spread to the gentry and other literate groups. Nonetheless, McFarlane argued that there were perhaps around 5,000 Lollards in England by 1500, although they were disproportionately represented amongst the Gentry, professionals and artisans of the south east, particularly in London, Oxford and Norwich.

Therefore the 1495 Parliament in October gave greater powers to Royal Justiciars to hold and charge ‘Lollards, heretics and diverse unorthodoxies’. Although records remain sketchy, we can identify at least 25 Lollards who received fines in the next year, and three who were burnt at the stake. These numbers are not huge; England saw little of the atrocities perpetrated in Spain for example, but they nonetheless piled even more pressure on an already maligned group, which would have unforeseen consequences.

More broadly, England was entering an economic boom by 1495. Dyer has shown that this is notoriously hard to measure, but wool exports were up by 30% compared to 1480-1485, and that this represented a 60% increase from 1460. This was surely helped by the new English territories around Calais; Arras and Lens contained some form of fabric manufacture, albeit smaller than those further north. Encouraged by Lincoln and Rivers, and supported by the League of London, these industries surely drove demand for English wool. This, combined with the trickle of revenue from the Columbias, did wonders for the Royal coffers with Dover Castle and Eltham palace receiving ample renovations at this time.

The long term drawback of this explosion in the wool trade was the increased enclosure of land in order to develop sheep pasture leading to larger numbers of unemployed and ‘landless’ peasantry in the next decade. The new world not only provided greater wealth for England, but was an adequate receptacle for these landless poor, which in turn benefitted the English economy further.

Economic growth also helped to improve England’s defences. Richmond and Lord Grantham had made great progress with cavalry and weaponry respectively with records showing that the royal stables contained over 100 warhorses and that around 50 cannon over various types were forged in London by 1495. Edward had also invested in naval technology, at the insistence of the Duke of Norfolk, Admiral of England. Nofolk had successfully poached a group of shipwrights from Portugal and brought them to London to build Caravels for the Royal fleet and the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild.

Finally law and order remained tight across England as the Code of Seneschals came into effect and Richmond and the various councils kept a lid on any dissent. Whilst chaos swirled abroad, England remained stable and prosperous throughout the later 1490s with Edward’s earlier legal reforms paying dividends. The King himself could have breathed a sigh of relief as 1495 came to a close; his realm was secure, hsi enemies had been defeated once again, and his dynasty was secured with three children; Elizabeth, Edward and Richard.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

1495 was a defining year in Yorkist involvement in the new world. Sir Robert Chatham set sail for Norland in spring with a fleet of 12 ships and the people to establish a colony in Norland under the command of James St Leger, respected west country gentryman who nonetheless as a second son elected to take his chances in the new world. Chatham retraced his steps from the previous year and arrived in New Norfolk and founded a small trading post of St Barnabus (Halifax OTL). Beyond the name and location it is hard to discern much about the settlement in the early years; there does not seem to be a permanent population and the most convincing explanation is that it was used as a convenient watering station, and certainly that Chatham engaged in fishing around this coast.

Moving further south Chatham arrived at Jordanstown (Boston) and founded the first European settlement for nearly 500 years. Jordanstown was chosen for its sheltered harbor and friendly locals, who it seems continued to be cordial into 1496. St Leger and his group of around 600 colonists established a town on the southern peninsular of the harbour with a palisade, homes and of course a Church. The surviving royal writs for Jordanstown record that its aim was mostly trade. Society of Merchant Venturers records also show that limited amounts of furs and unusual vegetables (including potatoes) were brought back from the 1495 expedition.

With the colony established Chatham took around half of the ships south to map the Norland coastline and test the theory that it and the Columbias were two distinct land masses. He recorded numerous inlets and small islands along the coast and made notes as to their viability for settlement. He greatest triumph came in early August when the small fleet was driven inland by a storm; Chatham gave it the rather pious name of Calvary bay (OTL Chesapeake) and took refuge along a peninsular with a native village Chatham recorded was called Kagoughtown - although this was clearly anglicisation of the name. Nonetheless Chatham was quite taken in by the ‘pleasant climate’ of the region and named the settlement Goughtown. In particular Chatham was intrigued by a leaf that the local tribes smoked which Chatham recorded gave him a strong feeling of contentment, this leaf was called Tobacco and when the SMV set sail later in August they brought two sacks with them.

Chatham returned to England by way of Jordanstown, collected what items they had for trade, and commissioned them to find more of the strange leaf he had discovered. The second voyage to Norland was not met with the same excitement as the one to the Columbias had been. Chatham did not come back with tales of Gold or exotic plants, beside the potatoes that is, and it seemed that the prospects for Norland were lower than those further south. The saving grace for the entire enterprise was the tobacco which Chatham had brought back; the Society of Merchant Venturers were so taken with it that they commanded Chatham to return the following year in search of more, and the plant it came from. The mood in Bristol was perhaps also lifted by the news from the Columbias.

The voyage to the Columbias of 1495 was once again led by Lord Bradbury and Christopher Columbus who was becoming increasingly recalcitrant and grumpy that his opinions and schemes were being side-tracked by the English crown. There is some evidence that Columbus had even threatened to find a different patron if his demands to explore further west and annex the land of Yucka (Yucatan) and beyond for himself. To assuage him this voyage was accompanied by Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and Admiral of England. Norfolk after all had interests with the Merchant Adventurers guild, but it is believed that Edward dispatched him personally as his eyes and ears, with France cowed yet again the threat from elsewhere was lessened. Another new figure on the voyage was Bishop William Smyth who had been ‘fortunate’ enough to be selected as the first Bishop of New Albion.

Bradbury dispatched Hawkyns with a few ships to Fair Isle (Bermuda) to establish a fort and watering station and most importantly to deny it to the Spanish or Portuguese. However this still left a fleet of 18 ships to sail into Yorkstown harbor just before Easter Sunday 1495. The timing was perfect; Bishop Smyth held mass in the small wooden Church in Yorkstown and called on God to bless the colony and their future voyages. God was certainly blessing Nova Albion by this point; the mines had yielded some £15,000 worth of Gold for the English Exchequer (after the Merchant Adventurers had taken their cut) in under a year and the first attempts at agriculture had gone well, although even better with some local crop which was called Maize. In fact with the further colonists brought to Yorkstown the small settlement was running out of room - penned in as it was between sea and mountains - and so the search began for a new settlement location.

By 1495 the local population of Nova Albion had been ravaged by disease and so the island was quite empty, especially as the Taino tribes fled whenever they saw Europeans, and were encouraged to do so at the point of a handgun if they did not. This made the search for a new settlement much easier and the various ships spent all Summer 1495 searching the coast of Nova Albion for a new site. Eventually a place on the south east coast was selected in the arms of the Howard River which protected it and the flat land to its east from native raids. Under Norfolk’s guidance, and in honour of the saints day upon its founding the city was named ‘The Royal Borough of St Cornelius and St Gregory’ perhaps realising that this was a mouthful Berners and his associates began calling it Cornel within the year (OTL Santo Domingo) and work began immediately on a stone Cathedral and fort - for this was to be the Island’s official capital.

Eventually some 1,000 settlers were sent to Cornel to help with the building work, many of them hailed from the north of England and so sheep farming was quickly established on the slopes behind the town and the town would continue to have a rather ‘northern’ feel for at least a century. Meanwhile, perhaps to keep them apart, the 1,000 or so Welshmen were settled in the central valley to the west of St Edward where they established their own settlement of Haurafen (Orvan in English) which would become a distinct culture in its own right (to this day Orvan Rugby Club is one of the most successful in the western hemisphere).

The 1495 expedition was incredibly important in the history of the Yorkists in the new world; it established a major capital and the embryo of a settler culture. It also brought the Church officially to the islands. The voyage was also significant because Norfolk’s presence supercharged the impetus towards exploitation and colonisation in the region. As one of Edward V’s long-time friends, and the first Falcon to visit the Columbias, Howard was able to impress upon the King the potential that the area had. Norfolk also visited Cove and St John and saw the resources that those islands had as well. It seems that this is what led Edward to award Lord Thomas Bradbury the title ‘Duke of Albion’ in late 1495 and place him in charge of all further efforts in the new world. However there was one failure in 1495 which changed the trajectory of the Yorkists in the Columbias for decades.

Christopher Columbus had become a desperate man by 1495. The initial shine of his first voyage had worn off long ago, and he had been overtaken by Bradbury, even Chatham, in the eyes of Edward V. Indeed Columbus’ continued insistence that the Columbias were somewhere near modern India surely won him little favour. Columbus left Yorkstown in May 1495 with five ships under strange circumstances. Bradbury records that Columbus took his leave without requesting permission, although the presence of Robert Wydow and Lord Morely make this unlikely. These two men had already sailed west of Nova Albion with Columbus twice now, and were increasingly taking the appearance of his chaperons rather than his companions.

Robert Wydow, the Dominican Friar and by now resident expert on new world languages, records that Columbus was ‘sorely intent on discovering the Indus, El Dorado, Atlantis, even Utopia itself if it could give his life some meaning and win him favour with the King.’ Wydow is clearly exaggerating but given Columbus’ discovery of Gold in the jungle west of Yucka in the land he had named St Nicholas, he probably wanted to return to discover the source and possibly prove it was India after all.

Regardless of the motive, Columbus’ attitude would be his undoing. The five ships anchored in a shallow bay some 100 leagues west of Yucka in July 1495, Columbus taking a party of men and Robert Wydow ashore to trade, and possibly find some Gold. Wydow records the resulting event at length, and with a great deal of criticism, but suffice it to say that in the ensuing encounter Columbus was killed. The most likely story is that he blundered into a confrontation with the local inhabitants and after an incoherent argument, the explorer did something rash and ended up with an arrow through his throat. Wydow and the remaining members of the party were able to recover his body and return to the ship but they left immediately for Yorkstown with the news.

With Columbus dead, a large impetus for further west-ward expansion died with him; the English believed that Columbus was merely arrogant and insane in pushing further into the jungle, and his death had proven that in their eyes. It would be almost a decade before another English expedition sailed west past Cape Albatross on the western-most tip of Cove (Cuba). It was also very convenient that Columbus removed himself from the equation in 1495 as it allowed the Yorkists to rely more solely on English expertise in the large part, and it is possible Edward V was envisioning a way to sideline the Genoan anyway.

It is hard to write an obituary of Christopher Columbus for so much has already been written, and much of it partisan. He remains famous as the man who discovered the Columbias - they are still named after him - and so his boldness and bravery in that initial endeavor must be applauded. However it is hard to see the man in the last eighteen months of his life as anything other than a greedy, arrogant, self-obsessed explorer who refused to be proven wrong by his paymasters and consequently refused to heed them in turn. The fact that Columbus finally perished the victim of his own glory-seeking behaviour is perhaps poetic enough.

Indeed when Bradbury and Norfolk returned to England that winter masses were sung in St Paul’s Cathedral for the dead man, but they were not excessive. It would seem that Bradbury (now made Duke of Albion), Norfolk and Edward V were united in their apathy at his passing, it was almost inconsequential. The House of York had no desire to disappear into the jungles of St Nicholas (OTL Mexico) when they had so much to do in the Columbia islands and beyond, and aside from Columbus’ death there was so much to celebrate as 1495 came to a close.
Chapter 13: 1496 The end of an era

Charles VIII T Blanning, 1989

The dust finally settled upon Europe in 1496, for Charles VIII was once again spent. He had wasted the 13 years of his reign trying and failing to extend his royal authority to the edges of his realm and beyond. Brittany, Burgundy, Calais, Naples, Milan. All had been targets and all had eluded his grasp. Worse, they had fallen into the hands of his enemies. Brittany had been joined to England in marriage and would soon be united dynastically. Burgundy lost irrevocably to Emperor Maximillian and his son Phillip. Calais had been defended and enlarged at the expense of Boulogne and Artois. Naples had been held fleetingly and then fallen to Ferdinand of Castile. Milan had never wavered.

Perhaps History has been unkind to Charles. He was, after all, encircled by men who would prove to be four shrewd rulers: Edward V, Maximillian I, Ludovico Sforza, and Ferdinand II, not to mention the implacable Pope Alexander VI. Yet even the most charitable scholar cannot fail to concede that Charles repeatedly over-reached himself and then lost his head when his plans went sour. For more than a decade of yearning and striving, Charles had nothing to show for it, literally; his treasury was empty, his expensive cannon taken by his enemies, his realm had even shrunk. The final humiliation was signed in February 1496. The Treaty of Lodi concluded the Italian war: Charles was forced to relinquish both of his claims to Naples and Milan and vow to keep the peace for four years, on pain of excommunication. By all accounts the King returned to France a broken man.

What followed next, however, could not be foreseen. Charles VIII Valois died on the 13th March 1496. The official story was that he banged his head in the stables at Chateau d’Amboise and died later after having collapsed. However that does not explain why Charles’ favourite, Etienne de Vesc, also disappeared the same night. Rumours swirled around the French court for days, with the strongest suggesting that Vesc must have been involved in some kind of plot to kill the King and escape. Then Etienne de Vesc was found floating in the Loire with his throat slit from ear to ear. The mystery deepened, and has never been conclusively explained. To this day it is remembered in French History as La Nuit d’Corbeau (The Night of Ravens).

The more scandalous accounts suggest that the new King, Louis XII, had his cousin murdered. Unfortunately for once there is little evidence with which to dissuade the conspiracy theorists. Louis of Orleans was ambitious, and had already opposed Charles during the Mad War, plus he was very aware of his claim to the throne whilst Charles did not have an heir. But the real clincher is that Louis was known to be furious with Charles for all of his reverses abroad, and was apoplectic that so much had been lost. That does not even include the humiliation Louis suffered after his capture at the Battle of Montdidier which he blamed on Charles. Louis certainly had the means, motive and opportunity to have his cousin killed, and the murder of de Vesc adds yet more weight to the theory.

Regardless of the how, who and why, Charles VIII was dead. A rather torrid chapter of the French monarchy came to an end and Louis would begin anew, to the chagrin of many.

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

The reaction across Europe to the death of Charles VIII ranged from satisfaction to apathy. He had become almost a joke amongst European royalty and nobility for his many failed exploits. Maximillian, Edward V and the various members of the League of Venice in particular were happy to see him go. Many other courts and their chroniclers do not even record his passing, save in reference to his successor.

Louis XII was a much more dangerous prospect than Charles; not yet 35 when he became King, Louis had enjoyed a distinguished career of causing mischief and mayhem across France and beyond. His rivals would do well to be suspicious of a man whom many suspected had just killed his cousin, and Louis had certainly waged war against him during the 1480s. Only time would tell just how wary of the new French King they would have to be.

Elsewhere in Europe a number of marriage alliances were concluded which all had an anti-France hue to them. Anna Sforza and Prince Richard of Shrewsbury were finally married after the suitable mourning period for Anna’s excuse of a husband had passed, they would retire to Oudenburg where it was said Anna was much more comfortable than in Italy, despite the weather. Emperor Maximillian finally completed his dream of marrying his son Phillip into the Spanish royal families, agreeing a marriage with Joan of Castile which would have a wide ranging impact upon Europe for centuries as the Spanish and German crowns were to be combined. This was certainly a coup for Maximillian, although was a blow for Edward V who had three children to find matches for, although they were all infants.

Rivers was likewise dispatched to Iberia to find matches for Elizabeth, Edward and Richard, he returned to England with two out of three, and a complication. Prince Richard of Bedford, only four years old, was to be married to Johana de Vilhena, niece of King Manuel I of Portugal whilst Prince Edward was to be married to Catherine of Aragon when they both came of age. Thus in one strike Rivers had succeeded in tying the English crown into both Iberian ones. The complication arose from Rivers’ stop in Avignon on his return journey.

Following Rivers’ petition to Pope Alexander VI in 1493 for grants to settle the Columbias, the Pope had also been harassed by the Spanish and Portuguese monarchs for similar recognition. Thus the convocation of Avignon was summoned to arbitrate between the three realms and divide the map between them. The consequent Treaty of Avignon would not go down well in England, and would sow the seeds of a true cataclysm in the next half century. The Treaty drew two lines on the map. One north to south line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands marked the extent of Portuguese claims, everything east of the line became their territory which included all of Africa and the hypothesised route to India and as yet undiscovered chunk of South Columbia (OTL Brazil). The true complication came with the second line which was to divide England and Spain.

In the intervening years some have suggested that Pope Alexander was using incomplete or faulty data, others that he was simply incompetent. Yet the most convincing explanation was that Alexander wanted to enrich his native land and sought to reduce England’s power in the new world. The Avignon Treaty stipulated that all lands to the north of Nova Albion and east of the 900 league line from Cade Verde (which ran just west of Cape Albatross on Cove, the western most point) were to fall to England, essentially their existing claimed lands from Nova Albion to New Norfolk (OTL Nova Scotia) and any land which happened to be in between. To Spain went St Nicholas (OTL Mexico) in defiance of Columbus’ 1494 claim and all land west and south of it. In one fell swoop the Pope had thus denied some extremely lucrative lands to the English, lands which they would come to see as rightfully theirs. However, Avignon merely stored up troubles for the future, by September 1496 peace had come to Christendom for the first time in many years. Of course it was not to last.

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

As Edward V entered his tenth year as King, he was coming into his prime. He had secured his realm from both internal and external threat, upheld law and order, and sired heirs - he had met all the requirements of a Medieval Monarch. Yet Edward stood on the precipice of a new era; the Renaissance. In this regard the King of England was also building his resume; he had been a fierce patron of the arts, especially literature, not only bringing the first printing presses to England but also penning a number of tomes including a story in the Faire City and the political manual that was the White Book.

Edward spent 1496 consolidating the gains of his first decade. The Parliament of that year formally licensed two trading companies for the New World; the Merchant Adventurers Guild became the Grand Columbian Company and the Society of Merchant Venturers became the Norland Trading Company. Edward had adopted this idea from Italy and used it to increase investment in the companies and therefore his own taxation revenue (all valuable metals remained at 15% tax, all other goods 10%). These incorporations mirrored the expanding and increasingly formalised economy of the City of London. Built on the spoils of the Columbias and the new lands in France, business was booming in London and the metropolis was destined for a century of unprecedented growth usurping Paris and Antwerp as the trading hub of north west Europe. All of this growth was underpinned by the formation of an English Bank; the Aldermen bank after the various Aldermen of London who formed the Bank in March 1496 with Sir Thomas Boleyn as its first commissioner.

Edward V was fortunate that the New World provided such a pressure release for the malcontents and lunatic fringe of England. The Lollards, by now having the heat turned up on them by English Bishops, elected to quietly leave England for the New World in spring 1496. Given the wealth of a few they were able to charter a ship - the Joan of Newcastle - to take them westwards. Without even realising it, Edward V had removed his Lollard problem, and created a cultural juggernaut for many centuries.

As for the King’s new found wealth, Edward pumped it into thoroughly modernising the English army with Swiss weaponry, Italian plate, and English cannon, forged on the template of French guns pilfered at Torhout. Before long the English military would be able to rival that of any of their European rivals. Finally Edward commissioned the White Fleet. Portuguese, Flemish, and now English shipwrights had been hard at work in the Thames constructing new Caravels for voyage to the New World, but the White Fleet was the next step up; named for the White Rose of York adorning the prow of each ship, the fleet were wider bottomed and larger than anything previously built in England. The White Fleet was to fulfill a dual role of carrying treasure and colonists to and from the New World and to deter others from interfering with English trade.

The King’s final measure in 1496 was to create the Constable’s Court; a formal office of bureaucrats designed to assist the Constable of England in his foreign duties, arrange embassies, receive foreign dignitaries and issue land permits for the new colonies. There was a huge argument over the siting of this court with Edward keen to keep it in London whilst Rivers demanded it be placed in Calais in order to be closer to the courts of Europe and his own lands. In the end the Constable’s Court was finally placed in London (where the Constable spent little time) but this only served to increase traffic between London and Calais, allowing the latter a share of England’s new found wealth.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

As the Yorkist settlement of the new world entered its fifth year, the real shoots of growth were beginning to show despite setbacks. Most instrumental were actually the events in Europe. Edward V had secured his dynasty, and for the first time in over a century humbled France and agreed a truce with Scotland. This left him confident and secure enough to move his eyes elsewhere, with Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1492 being perfect timing. Nova Albion and its sister colonies truly gave an opportunity for Edward V to stamp his mark on the world free from the legacy of his father, or the influence of his court, Edward grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

Naturally, and likely much to his own annoyance, the King could not sail off into the west and leave England undefended whilst he explored the Columbias, and so he relied on trusted subordinates. This forced reliance has deprived Edward of his deserved place as the architect of European settlement in the New World, that being given to Columbus, Thomas Bradbury, John Bourchier, or even Amerigo Vespucci and Ferdinand II. However it would be a grave error to see Edward as stand-offish or disinterested in the New World; he was very intrigued by the new discoveries and the potential they held. Indeed the New World, perhaps more than any theatre, would come to define his reign.

Upon Edward’s great energies rested the fame and wealth of many others. The Merchant Adevnturer’s Guild, with the Bristolian Society of Merchant Venturers following in their wake, became incredibly wealthy incredibly quickly even with their mere 15% haul of the Gold from Nova Albion. After their incorporation in 1496 this wealth would only expand as investment allowed greater projects. This wealth led to no shortage of people seeking their own slice; Bradbury and Chatham were the first amongst many knighted for their efforts, and many poorer folk sought a new life out West. Land shortages, continued local unrest, and increased enclosure of land for sheep farming provided an ever growing number of peasantry willing to take their chances in the New World. Remarkably these people were able to transplant their languages and culture to the New World, and by 1496 there had formed a strong Welsh contingent at Haurafen west of St Edward on Nova Albion with a large number of northerners settling around the new capital of Cornel and in the hills beyond.

By 1496 the management of these lands had been in a rather informal framework with Lord Berners Governor of the Columbias and responsible for all law and order on the islands, with the Merchant Adventurer’s Company responsible for much of the trade and transport, and the Church of course securing the Diocese of Nova Albion under Bishop Smyth (which also covered Cove, St John, St Dominic and the distant Fair Isle). In the coming years this management would become increasingly formalised, but the Constable’s Court of 1496 would have some responsibility for administering taxation and issuing writs in its early years.

It was also becoming impossible to keep other European powers out of the Columbias. Columbus’ confrontation with Vespucci in 1494 showed that Spain at least would not back down. Within two years the Spanish had established a presence to the South around present day Venezuela and the small islands around it (OTL Curacao and Trinidad & Tobago). The English clearly did not like this, but it was likely insignificant enough to be ignored or marginalised. The Treaty of Avignon changed everything. The demarcation lines would keep Portugal well away from England’s sphere, but they all but encircled them with Spain. The English were restricted to the original Columbian discoveries (e.g. Nova Albion) and anything directly north of them but not west or south. In short England could content themselves with what they had; some promising islands and increasingly paltry-looking Norland whilst Spain had control of the wealthy-looking interior of South Columbia and all land in the west, known in England as St Nicolas, and in Spain as New Spain. It would be the sixteenth century before this began to cause real problems, but it grated with Edward V all the same.

In retaliation Edward tried to include his League of London partners to strengthen his hand. The issue here is that Brittany was too small to consider any colonial adventure, especially with her French border to defend, and Burgundy had other interests too. By the late fifteenth century Emperor Maximillian was becoming increasingly distracted with Italy, and his son Phillip took over control of Burgundy, although he was about to become embroiled in Iberia. Instead Edward V was able to attract some investment from Burgundian and Breton merchant houses into his two new trading companies and the new century would see more colonial ships in the ports of St Malo, Brest, Ostend and Antwerp.

With all this political harangue and manoeuvre going on in Europe, the New World was actually comparatively quiet in 1496. The annual Merchant Adventurer’s Guild voyage (the name change to the Grand Columbian Company would occur after their departure) was once again led by Sir Thomas Bradbury, now the newly made Duke of Albion - the first title created in the New World. Albion’s title came with a large swathe of land north and east of Cornel and for this he took another 4,000 settlers. This group was less homogenous than the last with extensive analysis in GCC records showing that they hailed from Norfolk to Gwynedd and Gloucester to Berwick.

Once in the Columbias, Albion took to his new land with gusto, much of the native population by now being killed by disease or scattered, whilst his subordinate Sir Thomas Hawkyns took a new bunch of colonists to St Dominic (OTL Jamaica) establishing a settlement at Port Richard, so named after the victorious prince of Fornovo. Likewise the existing towns at Green Port on Cove (Cuba) and Bradbury on St John (Puerto Rico) were enlarged and strengthened with the Fort at Cape Middleham on St John being finally completed. By this point, the two islands had already begun to see deaths of local tribes similar to Nova Albion. The Europeans, ignorant of the diseases they carried, explained this as a sign from God that the land was theirs for the taking. Nonetheless trade began to flourish, especially in Maize and Cotton plus the more exotic fruits and vegetables from the islands.

In the north, Robert Chatham returned to St Barnabas and Jordanstown in late spring of 1496 bringing fresh goods to trade, a few colonists, and supplies. Given the greater wealth and allure of the Columbias the Society of Merchant Venturers had struggled to find people willing to go to Norland, but they had still gathered around 1,000 colonists, mostly from the West Country. A few of these settled in Jordanstown but Chatham was able to sweet-talk them into staying on for the journey to Goughtown in the land he had called Princess Elizabeth’s Land (OTL Virginia). It was a mouthful, but Chatham was desperate for royal patronage to match that of Bradbury and co further south.

Therefore after resupplying in Jordanstown, the fleet of some 18 ships sailed for Goughtown. When they arrived they found the native village abandoned and many graves. Taking his initiative from English interactions in the Columbias, Chatham claimed the land for England and set about fortifying Goughtown along its isthmus to protect the new settlement, importing four cannon from the ‘Anna’, one of the ships of the fleet. Chatham also had brought horses with him, thought to be the first on mainland Norland. These horses enabled Chatham and his companions to raid the interior in search of Tobacco, recovering a number of plants, and also, it seems, impressing the locals with their horses.

Chatham’s return journey planted the seeds of Norland’s prosperity; literally. He gave some of the settlers at Goughtown, led by Henry Sampson and William Canynge, both lower gentry from around Somerset. Here the settlers were able over the next year, to cultivate the Tobacco and produce a small amount for trade - thus creating the plantation system in the new world. Flushed with success, and carrying a few more sacks of Tobacco, Chatham returned via Jordanstown to Bristol. The new trading post there gave him potatoes and some seedlings for attempted cultivation in Europe, and some furs which would add even more economic clout to the newly formed Norland Trading Company. Yet before he left Jordanstown, Chatham had received news of an unexpected development.

The Joan of Newcastle had reached Jordanstown in May 1496 and requested a landing at Jordanstown. Governor James St Leger, was suspicious of this unexpected and undocumented group of settlers, Chatham had certainly not predicted their coming, and refused to allow them to settle in Jordanstown itself without authorisation from England. St Leger did however allow the inhabitants of the ship to settle five leagues south of Jordanstown on an inlet he had mapped. The town was called Wycliffe and the first Lollard settlement in the New World had been created.

It is unknown when James St Leger, Robert Chatham and the SMV/NTC discovered that they now had heretics in their midst, but the Lollards could not have advertised the fact early; by nature they did not try to proselytise the locals and instead largely kept to themselves. Although the inhabitants of Wycliffe did set about teaching their children to read and write and to understand the Bible in English. The settlement is estimated to have begun with just 200 people, but the Joan of Newcastle returned to England with word of the new land to other Lollards, they would be the first of many. Wycliffe was insignificant in 1496, it went barely noticed beyond Lollard circles themselves, but it would come to play a vital role not just in the New World, but Old as well.

Although 1496 is much more remembered for the European manipulation of the New World, the lands themselves also saw growth at this time as its resources were exploited by an increasing number of English explorers, gentry, merchants, clergy, heretics and even peasantry.

Requiem by Bernard Cornwell (2011)

Edward was cold. The soaring arches of York Minster sucking any warmth from the cavernous space. The towering columns pulled the attention up into the beautiful chasm of weak winter light straining through the narrow windows. His breath clouded in front of him like the steam of a boiling pot, the thought did not warm the King.

Into the great space poured the chants and laments of the choir, echoing down the vast emptiness of the Minster’s Halls. Their undulating tones attempting and failing to bring life to the occasion. Instead the choir merely faded into the background, swallowed by the still, solemn cold of this day. Edward knew how the world felt, his heart was similarly cold and still, for his Uncle, Richard of Gloucester was dead.

Edward knew that he was being emotional - not his face that remained a slate, impassable, grey - but in his heart he genuinely felt emptiness, as much as when his own father had died. Richard had been one of the last links to that old generation of Yorkists; the ones who had taken the throne and held it against all comers; Lancastrian, Scots, French, all of them. It was a testament to the man’s skill that he had died peacefully in his bed in age when so many of his peers had lost their head in battle.

Richard had not been well for a good while, his back injury making it more and more painful for him to move until only lying in bed, with a good amount of wine in him, was the only way for him to get through the day. Edward had given him the mercy, some would say punishment, of stepping down from official duty a few years prior to enjoy his remaining time with his grandson Richard of Hutton, who was by now a rambunctious four year old who was full of energy but nonetheless doted on his adoring grandfather.

Edward gazed into the gloomy northern light slicing through the windows into the frigid Minster. He really did not see the appeal of the north; it all had the rugged and rolling beauty of Wales but without any of the warmth or charm, from its climate or its people. Yet Richard had been happy here. York was the right place to bury him, that was clear. The Duke had died in Oakham, and the Aldermen of Leicester had made a preposterous request to have him buried in their Cathedral. Edward had over-ruled that one quickly; it was to be London or York for his Uncle - and a place had been found for him at the heart of the ancient northern capital’s Minster.

A large creaking noise told him that the main doors were open and Edward turned. He was the only one who did, his status made him the only one who could have escaped the move without censure. The rest of the assembled Lords and Ladies kept their heads bowed. Across their heads Edward saw the six pall-bearers from Gloucester’s own household with William Catesby, Earl of Humber leading them. Upon their shoulders, drape in a black shroud embroidered with the white rose and boar of Richard’s livery lay the great Lord’s body.

Edward turned from the sight and glanced across the mourners as he swivelled around;many of them were northerners, a surprising number for a ‘southern lord’ Edward realised. There was Northumberland with Edward’s sister Catherine, his wife, at his arm - her face draped in black. Edward knew she was crying - she had been as close to Richard as any of his other siblings. Then the Earls of Derby and Warwick. Further back he could see the ‘new men’ as he called them, those who had recently come to his attention and risen to prominence: the Duke of Albion and Robert Chatham were here - the two explorers being forced to sit near one another. Next to them were Thomas Boleyn, John Seymour and Charles Brandon, all men Edward would have to keep an eye on in future. Then came the falcons; Lincoln, Norfolk, Wiltshire and the Bishop of Worcester his sworn brothers in arms, he was glad they could be here today, not that they would have missed it.

Next to them stood Lord Protector Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond and his wife Elizabeth of York, another of Edward’s sisters. Richmond had become like a brother to Edward; he trusted him as much as he trusted his own blood. The realm was peaceful and quiet, that alone would have made Edward happy, but Richmond also made Elizabeth happy, they now had four children; Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary who were all healthy and boisterous, Edward’s own children enjoyed playing with them when they could.

Then closest to him was his own true family, Anna of course, although the children were not here. Uncle Rivers, one of the few of Richard’s generation left stood next to her, his adopted son William Compton behind him. The other of the last generation was Hastings of course but he also lay on his deathbed. And then was Prince Richard - their Uncle’s namesake, who seemed to be doing his utmost to match their maverick uncle in comportment as well as name. Edward gave an inward frown as he glanced over his brothers’ party; his new Italian wife Anna was dressed in a tight-fitting narrow black satin gown with a rather severe tight neck - not the typical fashion for England, but then she was Italian, although Edward suspected she may be wearing mens tights under that garb, as was her want. Edward had not approved of Anna at first, Richard had just upped and married her, but he had been won over by her unusually un-feminine charm and the fact that she clearly made Richard happy, not that he ever said any of this outloud.

Next to Anna stood perhaps the strangest mourner in the place. A tall thin man Richard had brought back with him from Oudenburg; he was wearing a long black cloak edged with fur and his hair fell flat where it had been squashed under a square fur hat which now lay by his feet. Erasmus was what the man insisted on calling himself, Edward was wary of such continental, cosmopolitan types but again he seemed harmless .

With a thundering boom the monstrous pipe organ began - drowning out the choir and Edward’s thoughts as he snapped round to face Archbishop Rotherham, his face stony though his eyes flashed at the King as if to rebuke him for his lack of decorum. The organ stepped up a notch, Edward had not believed it was possible, as the body of his uncle, Richard of Gloucester reached the foot of the steps.

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester by R Horrox (2001)

Richard Duke of Gloucester died at Epiphany 1497. His condition had been failing for a while and he had been retired with a pension of £200 from the 1491 Parliament. Records show that he alternated his time between Sheriff Hutton and his manors around Oakham in the winter months. Richard’s cause of death has been much debated - with talk of his suspected spinal deformity figuring strongly. Yet there are no clear signs from surviving records as to what may have caused his death, the fact that he died aged 42 should give some clue that his health was clearly failing. Alas we shall perhaps never know, but more recently weight has increasingly fallen behind the idea that Gloucester had sustained some kind of injury - spinal or otherwise - and that this slowly led to his death.

So died one of the last founding members of the Yorkist dynasty. A History of first 35 years of the Yorkist dynasty could easily be written focusing solely on Edward IV and V, but Gloucester was a constant presence in the background. He had led the vanguards at Barnet and Tewkesbury in 1471 and then controlled the north with deftness and tact, leading to the longest period of peace the region had seen in generations.

Yet all these earlier duties were merely a prelude to Gloucester’s greatest challenge. Following Edward IV’s sickness in 1483, Gloucester had rushed to his brother’s side and taken on the duties of Lord Protector in his stead. Such was Gloucester’s achievement in this role that it became permanent and eventually evolved into the present political system we have today. Yet it would be a mistake to attempt, as some have, to see Gloucester as some sort of proponent of a new, less autocratic, political system. Gloucester was simply fulfilling his role as one of the most loyal, capable, members of the English polity in the late 15th century.

Gloucester’s position as Lord Protector allowed him to provide valuable continuity of governance during the waning years of Edward IV and the earlier years of Edward V; Gloucester was able to quickly respond to threats, such as Buckingham’s rebellion, and represent the crown in legal matters and on the battlefield where it was unable to itself. Gloucester was also vital in establishing the new systems of law and order which Edward IV and V brought in; he worked closely with William Hussey and John Fineux in the creation and operation of the Star Chamber in particular. In short Richard of Gloucester became one of the architects of the Yorkist Golden Age, and was one of the most astute political minds of the 1480s and 1490s. It should come as no surprise that Richard of Gloucester is mentioned twice in the Prince, published some 15 years after his death and by Macchiavelli who never met him, such was the Duke’s reputation.

Given the tumultuous decade from 1483 to 1493, there have been many speculations, increasingly tending towards conspiracy theories, that suggest Gloucester was merely waiting for the opportunity to seize power himself. These began with the building of his own power-base in the north and the translation of men such as William Catesby from this to the wider polity. The historical record does not support such an assertion. Richard of Gloucester was dependably loyal and capable, if he had wanted to seize power with his brother ailing he surely would have done so. Richard of Gloucester never looked like seizing power, although a lesser man may have done so. However such suggestions merely come from sensationalist propaganda. The fact that Richard is still well remembered, even beyond Queens’ College Cambridge, one of his greatest bequests, is testament to the man’s mettle, loyalty and above all his capability.

Richard of Gloucester certainly left his mark on England, the tangible evidence is overwhelming, but it is also possible to see the mark he left upon those closest to him, that being Edward and Richard of York and his own grandson Richard of Hutton. Edward V clearly had a soft spot for his uncle; the lavish tomb at York Minster alone makes that clear, but he also owed Gloucester an intellectual debt. Gloucester had mastered the art of creating an interlocking polity of stakeholders and gentry with himself at the centre. Well-oiled by his own charismatic leadership and the maintenance of cordial relations with all parties, Gloucester was able to construct a consensus in the north which outlasted long after his death. The fact that the north saw little unrest in the Buckingham and Remnant Rebellions, in stark contrast to Wales, shows Gloucester’s success.

Furthermore his utilisation of the Council of the North became the template for Yorkist, indeed European, regional governance for a good century after his death. All of this had the impact upon Edward V that the king spent his entire reign imitating these policies; constantly bringing in new blood and incorporating them into his ever-expanding web of contacts; allowing them to pursue their own agenda so long as they did not undermine his own. Edward V’s broader handling of law and order also reflected his Uncle’s; swift, uncompromising and impartial, with some even suggesting that the Court of Requests instituted in 1491 was actually a Ricardian inspiration.

If Edward V inherited Gloucester’s political and judicial shrewdness, then Prince Richard of Shrewsbury, the Prince of Harts, was influenced by his bold and maverick streak. The furious battlefield tactics of Prince Richard, seen at Fornovo and later, not to mention those of Richmond were clearly modelled on those of Gloucester himself at Tewkesbury and Hereford, and in this regard Gloucester must also bee seen as a prime influence on English military dominance into the 16th century. Beyond war, Gloucester’s influence could be seen in Prince Richard’s headstrong attitude to diplomacy and matters of state; his swift marriage to Anna Sforza and his openness to the ‘unorthodox’ influences of Savonarola, Macchiavelli, Erasmus of Rotterdam and all the reformers beyond, could be seen as Richard’s maverick influence on his nephew.

As for Richard of Hutton, 4th Earl of Pembroke, he only had four years with Richard of Gloucester, his grandfather. The death of Gloucester’s wife, son and daughter in law, in a few years, and his own increasing ailment, must have taken an extreme toll upon the wily politician. It is therefore with joy that we read in Mancini, Vergil and elsewhere that Gloucester was ‘much besotted with his grandson, the Earl of Pembroke’. Alas it would be navel gazing to suggest that Pembroke’s life was defined by his infant years, but his childhood, combined with extensive testimonial about Gloucester from multiple sources, must have surely influenced the young man’s own rogish loyalty and service to the Yorkist dynasty.

In the final analysis there has been much speculation and thought over the influence of Richard of Gloucester on the Yorkist Golden Age, he did after all pass away whilst it was still in its infancy, but his contribution should not be overlooked. Gloucester provided a stable framework and support for Edward V in his early reign, just as he had for Edward IV in his later years. His firm grip of the judicial system, bold battlefield tactics, strong local affinity, and his more maverick tastes surely left an indelible mark on the Yorkists well into the sixteenth century. The fact that a Medieval Prince could have such a lasting impact upon the Renaissance is testament to the skill and talent of Richard of Gloucester, loyal servant of the house of York.