Duke of York
(Richard, 3rd duke of York)
1411 – 1460
b. Sept. 21, 1411
d. 30 Dec, 1460, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, Eng.
Claimant to the English throne whose attempts to gain power helped precipitate the Wars of the Roses (1455-87) between the houses of Lancaster and York; he controlled the government for brief periods during the first five years of this struggle. He was the father of two English kings, Edward IV and Richard III.
In 1415 Richard succeeded his Uncle Edward as duke of York. As a descendant of Lionel, duke of Clarence, third son of King Edward III (1327-77), York had a hereditary claim to the throne that was stronger, by primogeniture, than that of Henry VI (who became king in 1422), who was descended from Edward’s fourth son.
Nevertheless, York served Henry faithfully as governor of France and Normandy from 1436 to 1437 and 1440 to 1445.
At the same time, he became an opponent of the powerful Beaufort family, which was gaining control of Henry’s government. The death of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, in 1447 left York next in line for succession to the throne and the Beauforts had him sent virtually banished to Ireland as lord lieutenant. He returned to England in 1450 and led the opposition to Henry’s new chief minister, Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset. When the King suffered a nervous breakdown in July 1453, the ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, backed by Somerset, claimed the regency, but her rule was so unpopular that Parliament appointed York protector of the realm in March 1454.
York was hated and feared by Margaret because he was a potential rival to the throne she hoped to obtain for her son, then an infant.
Consequently, upon Henry’s recovery, in December 1454, Margaret persuaded him to dismiss York and restore Somerset to power. York immediately took up arms. York summoned his friends to arms and at the head of 3,000 men and accompanied by Lords Salisbury and Warwick he marched against the King in London.
However, Henry had left pro-Yorkist London for Leicester and, on learning that York was at Ware, set up his standard at St. Albans. The King had with him the Dukes of Somerset and Buckingham, Lords Pembroke, Northumberland and Devon and about 2,000 men.
At St. Albans, Hertfordshire, on May 22 1455, the Lancastrians attempted to hold the town behind two barriers in Hollywell and St. Peter’s Streets against Yorkist attacks from the east. Two frontal attacks mad no headway, but Warwick infiltrated his troops through an unguarded part of the town’s defences and spreading out took both barricades in the flank. The whole action lasted only half an hour and no more than 150 Lancastrians were killed; but the toll among their senior officers was very heavy.
Somerset, Northumberland and Clifford were killed; Buckingham’s son died of wounds and Buckingham himself was wounded. York then had control of the government until Margaret again gained the upper hand in October 1456.
Hostilities between the two sides reopened late in 1459; in July 1460 York’s able lieutenant Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, defeated the Lancastrians at Northampton and captured the King. A compromise was then worked out whereby Henry was to remain king for life and York was to succeed him. But Margaret, who would never agree to the disinheritance of her son, raised a rebellion in northern England. York’s attempt to deal with her resulted in his death when he was attacked by the Lancastrians outside his castle near Wakefield. His son Edward seized power the following year as Edward IV.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Richard 3rd Duke of York (1411 – 1460)" https://englishhistory.net/middle-ages/richard-3rd-duke-of-york/, January 13, 2022