Edward of Westminster

Edward of Westminster

Edward of Westminster, also known as Edward of Lancaster (13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471), was the only Prince of Wales ever to die in battle. He was born in Westminster, London.

He was the son of King Henry VI of England and his consort, Margaret of Anjou. Their only child, he was born at the Palace of Westminster. His father was at the time suffering from mental illness, and there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and some unnamed lover. However, there is no evidence for this, and Henry himself never doubted the boy's paternity. Edward was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in 1454.

In 1467 the ambassador of the Duchy of Milan to the court of Kingdom of France wrote that he ‘already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne.’ [R. A. Griffiths, ‘Edward , prince of Wales (1453–1471)’, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004]

When King Henry VI signed away his son's birthright by agreeing to make Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York his heir, Queen Margaret immediately raised an army and attempted to fight the Yorkists. She and her young son went on the run, spending some time in both Scotland and Wales, before taking refuge in France. After several years in exile, Margaret took the best opportunity that presented itself, and allied herself with the renegade Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and Prince Edward was married off to Anne Neville, Warwick's younger daughter, in December 1470 -- although there is some doubt as to whether the marriage was ever solemnised.

Warwick succeeded in putting King Henry VI back on the throne. However, by the time Margaret and her son and daughter-in-law arrived back in England, a reversal of fortunes had taken place. Warwick had been defeated and killed at the Battle of Barnet and Edward IV was back on the throne. With little real hope of success, the inexperienced prince and his mother led the remnant of their forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury, where Edward was killed in battle [John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72), entry for Tewkesbury] .

According to later Tudor legend Edward was taken prisoner by Richard, Duke of Gloucester and brought before Edward IV. When the young Edward insulted the Yorkist king, Edward IV ordered his immediate murder.

He is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey.

His widow, Anne Neville, married Richard Duke of Gloucester, who succeeded as Richard III in 1483.


*R. A. Griffiths, "The Reign of King Henry VI" (1981), especially the Epilogue

There is a very interesting novel written on this subject by Evelyn Everett Green titled "In the Wars of the Roses".


External links

* Richard III Society: http://www.r3.org/basics/basic3.html
* Oxford Journals: http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/citation/s6-V/114/176-i

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