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Richard, Duke of York
This article is about Richard, Duke of York, father of King Edward IV. For the article about Edward IV's son who was imprisoned in the Tower of London see: Richard, Duke of York (Prince in the Tower).
Richard (Plantagenet), Duke of York (21 September 1411 – 30 December 1460) was the son of Richard, Earl of Cambridge, a noble who had been executed for treason by King Henry V of England in 1415, and of Anne Mortimer, who, like her husband, was a direct descendant of King Edward III. Richard thus had an excellent claim on the throne of England, which he began to press in 1448 by assuming the long-disused surname of Plantagenet. In doing so, he made a direct challenge to the weak King Henry VI. In about 1424, he married Cecily Neville, a descendant of John of Gaunt. Having had the attainder against his father reversed in 1426, he resumed the title of Duke of York, having already become Earl of March through the death of his uncle, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March.
With King Henry's insanity in 1452, York was made Lord Protector, but had to give up this position with the king's recovery and the birth of an heir, Edward, Prince of Wales, the next year. York gradually gathered together his forces, however, and the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses eventually broke out in 1455. The forces loyal to the King were led by the ambitious Duke of Somerset, but the Yorkists had the first victory at the First Battle of St Albans on 22 May 1455, at which Somerset was killed. York was soon forced to back down and come to terms with the King and four years passed in uneasy peace. Conflict was resumed in 1459, and York and his followers were attainted as traitors on 20 November 1459. York himself was forced into exile in Ireland, while his eldest son Edward fled to Calais with York's most powerful ally, the Earl of Warwick. York became all the more determined to achieve the throne for the House of York, and he was victorious over the Lancastrians at the Battle of Northampton. At this battle, he captured the King, who was subsequently forced to recognize York as his heir (disinheriting his own son) under the Act of Accord. York had been intending to seize the throne for himself, but there was limited support for this kind of usurpation even among such staunch Yorkists as the Earl of Warwick. However, parliament did agree to the compromise of making York heir to the throne, in effect recognising the Yorkist claim to the throne as superior to the Lancastrian one.
The Lancastrians, meanwhile, led by Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou, refused to accept this, and continued the war. York headed north and he was killed fighting the Lancastrians at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460. He was buried at Pontefract, but his head was put on a pike by the victorious Lancastrian armies. Richard's eldest son finally succeeded in putting his dynasty on the throne in 1461 as King Edward IV of England. Edward V of England was Richard's grandson, and Richard III of England was Richard's son. The Tudor king Henry VIII of England was Richard's great-grandson.
His children with Cecily Neville include:
- Joan of York (1438).
- Anne of York (August 10, 1439 - January 14, 1476), consort to Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter.
- Henry of York (b. February 10, 1441).
- Edward IV of England (April 28, 1442 - April 9, 1483).
- Edmund, Earl of Rutland (May 17, 1443 - December 31, 1460).
- Elizabeth of York (April 22, 1444 - after January, 1503), consort to John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk.
- Margaret of Burgundy (May 3, 1446 - November 23, 1503).
- William of York (b. July 7, 1447).
- John of York (b. November 7, 1448).
- George, Duke of Clarence (October 21, 1449 - February 18, 1478).
- Thomas of York (born c. 1451).
- Richard III of England (October 2, 1452 - August 22, 1485).
- Ursula of York (born c. 1454).
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