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Richard III: The Making of a Legend
Despite a show of reconciliation between Warwick and the king, the Nevilles continued to instigate rebellion. When papers captured from rebels after a skirmish proved that Warwick planned to place Clarence on the throne, Edward took immediate action. Warwick and Clarence were proclaimed traitors and John Neville, the only member of his family who had remained loyal to the king, was deprived of the earldom of Northumberland. The title of Earl of Northumberland was restored to Henry Percy, a Lancastrian sympathizer. This was a rash action on Edward's part, and one for which Richard would pay dearly.
Richard, who had been in Wales when the rebellion started, set out with an army to aid his brother. Warwick and Clarence, realizing full well that they would not win against the combined armies of Richard of Gloucester and the king, gathered together their wives, Warwick's younger daughter Anne, and several hundred adherents, and fled to the protection of Louis XI of France.
King Edward, who knew his brother George and cousin Warwick well, realized that they would not give up the fight so easily and he began preparations for the defense of his kingdom. He sent Richard to the Midlands to raise levies and maintain order. At the same time the king deprived the Nevilles of the Wardenship of the West Marches and conferred the office on Richard, who he felt confident could ensure the loyalty of Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, Warwick had not been idle. Through the mediation of his patron, Louis of France, the "Universal Spider," Warwick had become reconciled with Margaret of Anjou. In return for Warwick's promise to restore Henry VI to the throne, Margaret had consented to the marriage of her son Edward to Warwick's daughter, Anne Neville. The marriage was not to be solemnized, however, until Warwick had fulfilled his part of the agreement. Clarence, who had gained nothing by this agreement, was offered a consolation prize. He was to inherit the throne if Anne and Edward produced no heirs.
On September 13, 1470, Warwick landed in England where he was joined by his brother, the Marquis of Montagu, formerly the Earl of Northumberland. When Edward learned of Montagu's defection, he and some of his followers. including Richard, Hastings, and Rivers fled to Burgundy. They took with them only the clothes on their backs and thus, for the second time in his life, Richard found himself dependent on the charity of the Duke of Burgundy. Charles the Bold, the son of Philip the Good, was the husband of Edward and Richard's sister, Margaret. Charles, a descendant of John of Gaunt, was at heart a Lancastrian. Political necessity, however, had turned him into a Yorkist. He was at war with Louis XI and he knew that a Lancastrian king of England would not lift a hand to help him. He must, therefore, give Edward the aid he needed to regain his throne.
Although Warwick had made good his promise to restore Henry to the throne, Margaret remained in France with her son and Anne Neville, until she could be sure that England was once more safely Lancastrian. Yorkist hopes had been kept alive, on the other hand, by the birth of a son to Elizabeth Woodville, who was then in sanctuary at Westminster.
In March 1471 Edward returned to England. He met with no resistance as he marched toward London, possibly because he declared that he had come only to reclaim his dukedom. As he neared the city, however, he dropped this pretense and many loyal Yorkists joined his ranks. Even George of Clarence, either out of pique at Warwick or a belated sense of family loyalty, came over to his brother's side with the army he had raised to fight him. London welcomed Edward and supplied his army. A few days later the king marched out of London to meet the kingmaker in battle. With the Yorkist army rode the erstwhile king, Henry VI.
On Easter Sunday, April 14, 1471, at the Battle of Barnet, Warwick's army was annihilated and he and his brother Montagu were slain. The nineteen-year-old Richard of Gloucester commanded the right wing of his brother's victorious army. Three weeks later the royal forces, with Richard in command of the left wing, ched the Lancastrians once and for all. On May 4, at Tewkesbury, Margaret's army was totally destroyed and her son Edward lay among the dead.
On May 21 the king entered London in a triumphal procession led by his brother Richard. Accompanying the royal train were Edward's prisoner, Margaret of Anjou, and Clarence's ward, Anne Neville. That evening, according to the official version, Henry VI died in the Tower of "pure displeasure and melancholy." There is no doubt that his death was a judicial murder ordered by the king. The destruction of the legitimate Lancastrian line enabled Edward IV to enjoy comparative peace for the rest of his reign.
In the months after Tewkesbury the grateful king heaped yet more honors upon his youngest brother. Richard, restored to his positions as Constable and Admiral of England, was also given Warwick's former office of Great Chamberlain and was made Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster beyond Trent. Because Richard had great affection for the north country and the king needed a man of proven military ability to deal with the constant troubles on the Scottish border, Richard fell heir to all of the estates and power in that region that had formerly belonged to Warwick. Included in the gift were the castles of Middleham and Sheriff Hutton. The Duke of Gloucester thus became the greatest magnate in the north, with authority over the Earl of Northumberland.
Before leaving for the north to wage a campaign against the Scots, Richard secured the king's permission to marry Anne Neville. There had been a deep affection between the two young people since their childhood days at Middleham and since Anne's betrothed, Edward of Lancaster, was now dead, she was free to marry Richard. Upon the successful completion of the Scottish campaign he returned to London to claim his bride. Anne was in the custody of her brother-in-law Clarence who had no intention of sharing the Warwick inheritance with Richard. He therefore refused to give up his charge, despite a warning from the king not to interfere between the lovers. He claimed, when pressed, that Anne had disappeared and that he neither knew nor cared where she had gone. After weeks of diligent search Gloucester finally discovered Anne working as a kitchenmaid in the home of a retainer of the Duke of Clarence. Richard took her at once to the sanctuary of St. Martin le Grande where she would be safe from Clarence and from Richard too, if she so desired.
For several months the king's two brothers engaged in a bitter dispute over the questions of the Warwick inheritance and Anne's guardianship. Richard was quite willing to accept Anne even without her inheritance and so the matter was finally settled. Richard was to keep Middleham and certain other of Warwick's Yorkshire estates and Clarence was to get the rest of the vast inheritance.
As soon as the property settlement had been reached, Anne Neville came out of sanctuary. Without waiting for the papal dispensation usual in marriages within this degree of consanguinity [Richard's mother and Warwick's father were brother and sister, thus Richard and Warwick were first cousins and Richard and Anne were first cousins, once removed], Anne and Richard were married in the spring of 1472, and they returned immediately to their childhood home of Middleham. There, in 1473, Anne was delivered of their only child, Edward.
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