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Richard III: The Making of a Legend
The infuriated queen fled north where she raised an army by offering the Scots the border town of Berwick-on-Tweed in return for their aid. The Yorkists, meanwhile, began to assembled their own armies and Edward went into Wales to raise men. The Duke of York and the Earl of Salisbury marched off to Yorkshire, leaving Warwick in London to run the government. On December 30, in violation of a Christmas truce agreed to by both sides, the Lancastrian army attacked the Yorkists outside Sandal Castle near Wakefield. York, his son Edmund, and Salisbury were slain and their heads were taken to York and nailed up over the Micklegate Bar. Margaret, never one to leave well enough alone, had the duke's head adorned with a paper crown.
By the death of his father, Edward became the Yorkist claimant to the throne. In February 1461, at Mortimer's Cross, he defeated a large Lancastrian army but, a few days later, at the second battle of St. Albans, Warwick was routed by the queen who succeeded in rescuing her husband from Yorkist hands. The queen's forces followed the fleeing Yorkists to London, pillaging as they went. The Duchess of York, fearing for the lives of her two young sons should the Lancastrian army take the city, sent them to Burgundy where they were welcomed and royally treated by Duke Philip.
London, however, held out against the Lancastrians, and when Edward entered the city on March 4, he was enthusiastically proclaimed king. Thereupon, Margaret and her army fled northward, pursued by the Yorkists. On March 29, Palm Sunday, in a late but fierce snowstorm, the two armies met at Towton. In a bloody battle the outnumbered Yorkists completely defeated the Lancastrian army. Henry, Margaret and their son fled into Scotland.
When the news of the Yorkist victory reached Burgundy in mid-April, George and Richard were escorted to Calais by a guard of honor. From there they went to the Palace of Shene (Richmond) where their brother, King Edward IV, waited to greet them. Richard was not quite nine years old, yet in his brief lifetime he had experienced great danger and misfortune -- the loss of his father, a brother and an uncle, and virtual imprisonment and exile. Now, under the protection of his handsome, gifted brother, fortune for the first time appeared to smile on him.
On June 27 George and Richard, newly created Knights of the Bath, took part in the coronation of the new king. Edward named George as the Duke of Clarence and Richard as Duke of Gloucester, and both boys were made Knights of the Garter.
The age of nine was none too soon to begin the customary period of apprenticeship in the household of a great noble in order to learn all the knightly accomplishments. The king had decided that his brother Richard should enter the household of the richest and most powerful nobleman in England, his cousin the Earl of Warwick. Late in the year 1461 Richard went to the earl's great castle of Middleham in Wensleydale to begin his training. It was there that he met Robert Percy and Francis Lovell who were also being schooled in Warwick's household. These two youngsters became Richard's closest friends and remained, to the end of their lives, his staunchest supporters. The boys all lived together and received instruction in Latin, law, mathematics, music, religion, and the code of chivalric behavior and etiquette. Each day they practiced riding, hunting, and the use of arms. In the evening they were taught to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. Richard worked diligently on all of his lessons, but his greatest effort was directed toward developing skill in the use of weapons.
During the next few years the king heaped honors and lands on his two brothers. At the age of twelve Richard was appointed Commissioner of Array for nine counties and charged with levying troops to clear Northumberland of Lancastrians. George, although he was three years older than Richard, was not considered sufficiently mature for this responsibility, a fact which infuriated him. This, and other incidents of this period which indicated Edward's favoritism to Richard, may have marked the beginning of the hostility which George later displayed toward both his brothers.
In September 1464, Edward announced his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, a Lancastrian widow and the mother of two young sons. The marriage, which had been performed in great secrecy months before, was to have serious and far-reaching consequences. Warwick had been negotiating a French marriage for the king and felt publicly humiliated by the king's action. This caused a breach between the two strong-minded men. Warwick, who had helped his cousin Edward seize the throne, assumed he would be the power behind it. Edward, however, intended to rule in fact as well as name.
The strained relations between the king and kingmaker probably accounted for Edward's order, in the spring of 1465, that Richard be removed from Middleham. Richard spent the next five years at Westminster in a court dominated by the relatives of the queen. The members of the Woodville clan were numerous, aggressive, and greedy, and it was not long before they had secured for themselves the greatest offices and the richest marriages in the kingdom.The queen's sister Katherine was married to the Duke of Buckingham who was a dozen or more years her junior, while her twenty-year-old brother John captured the heart and hand of the eighty-year-old Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. It is not surprising that the queen and her family earned the enmity of the old nobility.
The resentment of Warwick, the head of the powerful Neville family, took a positive and dangerous form. He attempted to win the king's two brothers over to his side. Although Richard was no doubt flattered by the attentions showered on him, he recognized Warwick's treasonable intent and remained loyal to the King. Warwick had more success with George. In 1469, against the express command of the king, George of Clarence married Warwick's daughter, Isobel Neville, in a hurried and secret ceremony at Calais. When they returned to England, Warwick gathered an army, captured the king, and executed several of the royal adherents, including the queen's father, her brother John, and the earls of Pembroke and Devon.
Where was Richard during this period? Apparently the Nevilles considered him of such little ability and importance that he was not detained with his brother. When the king learned, however, that Richard and Lord Hastings had managed to raise armies to come to his rescue, he secretly summoned his Council to join him at Pontefract where he was being held prisoner. When the Council and the loyal armies appeared, Edward coolly informed his captors that these men had come to accompany him to London and he intended to go with them.
This rescue caused the king to appreciate more fully the loyalty and ability of yis youngest brother. On his return to London, Edward rewarded Richard by appointing him Constable of England for life. This was an extremely powerful position and carried with it great responsibility. The Constable, as President of the Court of Chivalry and Courts Martial, could determine and punish acts of treason.
Richard was also appointed Chief Justice of North Wales for life, and it was in this position that he undertook his first independent military command. He quickly suppressed a Welsh rebellion and recaptured the castles of Cardigan and Carmathen. Early in 1470 Richard became Chief Justice of South Wales, which meant he was the virtual ruler of Wales. He thus displaced Warwick who had taken these offices for himself at the time he held the king captive.
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