Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

Richard Neville
Black and white drawing of Warwick
Warwick as drawn in the Rous Roll. He displays on his shield the arms of Montagu quartering Monthermer. The bull's head is the crest of the Neville family, the eagle is the crest of Montagu.
Born22 November 1428
Died14 April 1471 (aged 42)
Barnet, Hertfordshire
Resting placeBisham Abbey, Berkshire
Title16th Earl of Warwick
Tenure23 July 1449[1]– 14 April 1471
Other titles6th Earl of Salisbury
8th & 5th Baron Montagu
7th Baron Monthermer
Other namesWarwick the Kingmaker
Known forInfluence during the Wars of the Roses
ResidenceMiddleham Castle, et al.
LocalityWarwickshire, Yorkshire
Net worthc. £7,000 at death[2]
Wars and battles
OfficesCaptain of Calais
Lord High Admiral of England
Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster
PredecessorAnne Beauchamp, 15th Countess of Warwick
SuccessorEdward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick
ParentsRichard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury (father)
Alice Montagu, 5th Countess of Salisbury (mother)
Signature of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.jpg

Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick KG (22 November 1428 – 14 April 1471), known as Warwick the Kingmaker, was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander. The eldest son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, he became Earl of Warwick through marriage, and was the wealthiest and most powerful English peer of his age, with political connections that went beyond the country's borders. One of the leaders in the Wars of the Roses, originally on the Yorkist side but later switching to the Lancastrian side, he was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, which led to his epithet of "Kingmaker".

Through fortunes of marriage and inheritance, Warwick emerged in the 1450s at the centre of English politics. Originally, he was a supporter of King Henry VI; however, a territorial dispute with Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, led him to collaborate with Richard, Duke of York, in opposing the king. From this conflict, he gained the strategically valuable post of Captain of Calais, a position that benefited him greatly in the years to come. The political conflict later turned into full-scale rebellion, where in battle York was slain, as was Warwick's father Salisbury. York's son, however, later triumphed with Warwick's assistance, and was crowned King Edward IV. Edward initially ruled with Warwick's support, but the two later fell out over foreign policy and the king's choice of Elizabeth Woodville as his wife. After a failed plot to crown Edward's brother, George, Duke of Clarence, Warwick instead restored Henry VI to the throne. The triumph was short-lived, however: on 14 April 1471, Warwick was defeated by Edward at the Battle of Barnet, and killed.

Warwick's historical legacy has been a matter of much dispute. Historical opinion has alternated between seeing him as self-centred and rash, and regarding him as a victim of the whims of an ungrateful king. It is generally agreed, however, that in his own time he enjoyed great popularity in all layers of society, and that he was skilled at appealing to popular sentiments for political support.[4]

Becoming Warwick

The Neville family, an ancient Durham family, came to prominence in England's fourteenth-century wars against the Scots. In 1397, King Richard II granted Ralph Neville the title of Earl of Westmorland.[5] Ralph's son Richard, the later Earl of Warwick's father, was a younger son by a second marriage, and not heir to the earldom.[6] He received a favourable settlement, however, and became jure uxoris ("by right of his wife") Earl of Salisbury through his marriage to Alice, daughter and heiress of Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury.[7][8]

Salisbury's son Richard, the later Earl of Warwick, was born on 22 November 1428; little is known of his childhood.[9] At the age of six, Richard was betrothed to Lady Anne Beauchamp, daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, and of his wife Isabel Despenser. This made him heir not only to the earldom of Salisbury, but also to a substantial part of the Montague, Beauchamp, and Despenser inheritance.[2]

Circumstances would, however, increase his fortune even further. Beauchamp's son Henry, who had married the younger Richard's sister Cecily, died in 1446. When Henry's daughter Anne died in 1449, Richard also found himself jure uxoris Earl of Warwick.[10] Richard's succession to the estates did not go undisputed, however. A protracted battle over parts of the inheritance ensued, particularly with Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, who had married a daughter from Richard Beauchamp's first marriage.[2] The dispute centred on land, not on the Warwick title, as Henry's half-sisters were excluded from the succession.[11]

By 1445 Richard had become a knight, probably at Margaret of Anjou's coronation on 22 April that year.[12] He is visible in the historical record of service of King Henry VI in 1449, which makes mention of his services in a grant.[12] He performed military service in the north with his father, and might have taken part in the war against Scotland in 1448–1449.[13] When Richard, Duke of York, unsuccessfully rose up against the king in 1452, both Warwick and his father rallied to the side of King Henry VI.[14]