Monday, May 24, 2010

Richard of York Anticipates a Crown, 1460

Richard Plantagenet (1411-1460), duke of York and regal hopeful, son of the disgraced Richard of Conisbrough and grandson of Edmund of Langley, was also a lineal descendant of Lionel of Clarence through his mother, Anne Mortimer. He was the first to use "Plantaginet" as a surname.

Richard's multiple descents from Edward III guaranteed that no one, not even Henry VI, had a stronger claim to the throne. Despite Parliament's acknowledgement in November 1460 naming Richard as heir of Henry VI, the latter's Queen, Margaret (who could never agree to the disinheritance of her son, Edward), raised a rebellion that resulted in York's death outside his castle at Wakefield--only a few short weeks after his future kingship had been declared.

Few men have come as close to the throne as Richard of York, and yet he died not knowing that his son, Edward, would soon become king. Even to his contemporaries, his motives were the subject of debate: had he always sought the throne, or did Henry VI's poor judgment force his hand? All questions that are destined to remain unanswered. Neither his enemies, or his friends, left a memoir of Richard.