George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
Sir George of York Plantagenet
Duke of Clarence
Earl of Warwick
Earl of Salisbury
Spouse Isabella Neville
Anne of York
Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick
Richard of York
House House of York
Father Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York
Mother Cecily Neville, Duchess of York
Born 21 October 1449(1449-10-21)
Dublin Castle, Ireland
Died 18 February 1478(1478-02-18) (aged 28)
Tower of London, London

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, 1st Earl of Salisbury, 1st Earl of Warwick, KG (21 October 1449 – 18 February 1478) was the third son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses. He is also remembered as the character in William Shakespeare's play Richard III who was drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine.



George was born on 21 October 1449 in Dublin, at a time when his father was beginning to challenge Henry VI for the crown, and his godfather was James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond. He was the third of the four sons of Richard and Cecily who survived to adulthood. Following his father's death and the accession of his elder brother, Edward, to the throne, George was created Duke of Clarence in 1461.

On 11 July 1469, George married Isabel Neville, elder daughter of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

Clarence had actively supported his elder brother's claim to the throne, but, following his marriage, he began to play a dangerous game. When his father-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, became discontented and jealous, and deserted Edward to ally himself with Margaret of Anjou, consort of the deposed King Henry, Clarence joined him in France, taking his pregnant wife, Isabel. She gave birth to their first child, Anne on 16 April 1470, in a ship off Calais. The child died shortly afterward. Henry VI rewarded Clarence by making him next in line to the throne after Edward of Westminster, justifying the exclusion of Edward IV either by attainder for his treason against Henry or on the grounds of his alleged illegitimacy.

After a short time, Clarence realized that his loyalty to his father-in-law was misplaced: Warwick had his younger daughter, Anne, marry Edward of Westminster, King Henry VI's heir. Since it now seemed unlikely that Warwick would replace Edward IV with Clarence, Clarence changed sides.

Warwick's efforts to return Henry VI to the throne ultimately failed and Warwick was killed in battle. George was restored to royal favour by his brother King Edward. As his father-in-law was dead, George became jure uxoris Earl of Warwick but did not inherit the entire Warwick estate as his younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, married the widowed younger sister of his wife, Anne Neville, for which George resented his brother. George was created 1st Earl of Warwick [England] on 25 March 1472.[1]

In 1475, his wife Isabel, Anne's sister, finally gave birth to a son, Edward, later Earl of Warwick.

Like the first lords of Richmond, Peter II of Savoy and Ralph de Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland before him, George was endowed with the lordship of Richmondshire but without the peerage.


George Plantagenet.

The Neville sisters were heiresses to their mother's considerable estates, and their husbands vied with one another for pride of place, with Richard eventually winning out. Clarence, who had made the mistake of plotting against his brother Edward IV, was imprisoned in the Tower of London and put on trial for treason. (In Shakespeare's Richard III, he is framed for treason by Richard.) Following his conviction, he was "privately executed" at the Tower on 18 February 1478, and the tradition grew up that he had been drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.[2] The tradition may have originated in a joke, based on his reputation as a heavy drinker. However, a butt was equal to three hogsheads — 105 imperial gallons (477.3 litres) — enough to easily drown in. A body, believed to be that of Clarence, which was later exhumed, showed no indications of beheading, the normal method of execution for those of noble birth at that time.[3] Another possibility is that George's remains were sent to the abbey in a barrel of Malmsey, as Horatio Nelson's were sent home in a barrel of brandy. In Shakespeare's Richard III he is stabbed by one of the Murderers after he convinces the other not to stab him, and then drowned in a vat of Malmsey, though off-stage. In the 1955 film of "Richard III", after he is clubbed over the head into unconsciousness by the murderers, the drowning is shown, but in the 1995 version his throat is slit while in the bath.

Clarence's wife, Isabel, had died in 1476, two months after giving birth to a short-lived son, Richard (6 October 1476 – 1 January 1477), and they are buried together at Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire. Their surviving children, Margaret and Edward, were cared for by their aunt, Anne Neville, until she died in 1485, when Edward was 10 years old.

Coat of arms of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence

Titles, styles, honours and arms


As a royal duke, George had use of the coat of arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, on each point a canton gules.[4]

England's Real Monarch

It is claimed on Britain's Real Monarch that Clarence was the true claimant to the throne as Edward IV was possibly illegitimate.


George married his wife Isabella Neville in Calais, France on 11 July 1469. Together they had four children:




  1. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 136.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Hicks (1992), pp. 184–6.
  4. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family


  • Hicks, Michael (1992). False, Fleeting, Perjur'd Clarence: George, Duke of Clarence 1449-78 (rev. ed.). Bangor: Headstart History. ISBN 187304108X. 
  • Weir, Alison (2002). Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy. Bodley Head. pp. 136–7. ISBN 0-7126-4286-2. 
  • Pollard, A.J. (1991). Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. Bramley Books. p. 65. ISBN 1-85833-772. 

External links

George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 21 October 1449 Died: 18 February 1478
English royalty
Preceded by
Edward of Westminster
Heir to the English Throne
as heir presumptive
4 March 1461 – 11 February 1466
Succeeded by
Elizabeth of York
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Clarence
3rd creation
Earl of Salisbury
3rd creation
Earl of Warwick
Succeeded by
Edward Plantagenet

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