Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/'Plantagenet,' Edward
‘PLANTAGENET,’ EDWARD, more correctly Edward of Norwich, second Duke of York (1373?–1415), was the eldest child of Edmund de Langley, earl of Cambridge, and afterwards duke of York [see Langley]. His father was the fifth son of Edward III, and his mother was Isabella of Castille, second daughter of Pedro the Cruel. Edward of Norwich was probably born in 1373 (at Norwich?), the year after his parents' marriage, though his age at his father's death, as given by Dugdale from the Escheat Rolls, would place his birth two or three years later (Doyle; Beltz, p. 310; Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 155; Chron. du Religieux de St. Denys, ii. 356). He was knighted by Richard II at his coronation (Fœdera, vii. 157). Betrothed to Beatrice, daughter of Ferdinand, king of Portugal, by the treaty of Estremoz (1380), as a condition of assistance against Henry of Castille, he was taken to Portugal by his father in July 1381, and the marriage was performed shortly after their arrival in Lisbon (ib. vii. 264; Walsingham, i. 313). But Ferdinand making peace with Castille, Cambridge returned to England in 1382, taking with him his son, whom the king, it is said, wished to retain; Ferdinand refused to send his daughter with him, and shortly after remarried her to the infante John of Castille (ib. ii. 83).
Edward in May 1387 succeeded Sir Richard Burley as knight of the Garter. On 25 Feb. 1390 Richard II created him Earl of Rutland, with Oakham and the hereditary sheriffdom of the county for the support of the title. The grant, for which parliamentary confirmation was obtained, was, however, limited to his father's lifetime. Gloucester's reversionary rights in these old Bohun estates were ignored in the grant, but confirmed by the king a few months later, and again in 1394 (Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 156, 170; Rot. Parl. iii. 264; Associated Architectural Societies' Reports, xiv. 106, 112). A year later (22 March 1391) Rutland, despite his youth, was made admiral of the northern fleet, and in the following November sole admiral, an office which he retained until May 1398. In the spring of 1392 he was associated with his uncle, John of Gaunt, in the negotiations at Amiens for peace with France (Beltz, p. 310; Knighton, col. 2739). About the same time he succeeded (27 Jan. 1392) the king's step-brother, Thomas Holland, earl of Kent, as constable of the Tower of London. As Richard's relations with Gloucester and Arundel grew more and more strained, he showed increasing favour to Rutland, than whom, says Creton (p. 309), there was no man in the world whom he loved better. Accompanying the king on his first expedition to Ireland in 1394, he was rewarded (before 9 March 1396) with the earldom of Cork, and acted as Richard's principal plenipotentiary in the conclusion of his marriage with Isabella of France (St. Denys, ii. 333, 356, 359; Walsingham, ii. 215). A suggested marriage between Rutland himself and a sister of Isabella came to nothing, as Jeanne, the second daughter of Charles VI, was already betrothed to the heir of Brittany (Wallon, ii. 415; Fœdera, vii. 804). He figured prominently at the costly meeting between the two kings in October 1396 which preceded the marriage.
In the following spring he went abroad again on a mission to France and the princes of the Rhine. Offices were accumulated on him. In 1396 he was made warden of the Cinque ports, with the reversion of the governorship of the Channel Islands; in April 1397 warden and chief justice of the New Forest, and of all the forests south of Trent; and in June lord of the Isle of Wight, which had been in the hands of the crown for a century. It can hardly have been a mere coincidence that just before taking his revenge upon the lords appellant Richard entrusted so many strategical points along the Channel to the man who already commanded the fleet. When the crisis arrived, Rutland took a leading part in the arrest of Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick; was given Gloucester's office of constable of England on 12 July, and headed the eight who appealed the prisoners of treason at Nottingham in August, and in the fatal September parliament (Annales Ricardi, p. 203; Dugdale, ii. 156; Rot. Parl. iii. 374). In the next reign he was accused by the informer Halle of having sent his servants to assist in the murder of Gloucester (ib. iii. 452). Gloucester's lands in Holderness, and with them his title of duke of Aumarle or Albemarle, were granted (28–29 Sept.) to Rutland; and in December 1398 Oakham and the shrievalty of Rutland, in which Gloucester's reversionary rights had lapsed by his attainder, were regranted to Albemarle and his heirs male. His share of Arundel's possessions was Clun in the Welsh march and other estates, and of Warwick's the Hertfordshire manor of Flamsteed. In the next reign it was even asserted that Richard had contemplated abdicating in his favour (Annales Ricardi, p. 304). Richard constituted him in February 1398 warden of the west marches towards Scotland, and he officiated as constable at the abortive duel between Hereford and Norfolk at Coventry.
It is not impossible that, as he afterwards averred, Albemarle was somewhat alarmed at Richard's arbitrary treatment of Hereford, and Norfolk's prophecy that he would meet with a similar fate, even if it be not true that he and his father indignantly retired to Langley when Hereford was excluded from his inheritance (ib. iii. 382, 449; Traïson et Mort, p. 160 n.) It is not absolutely necessary to suppose, however, that he had already been tampered with by Henry (cf. Archæologia, xx. 24). The acts of treason during Richard's last fatal expedition to Ireland with which he is charged by its French chronicler, Creton, need not bear that construction except in the mind of a writer violently prejudiced by Albemarle's subsequent desertion of Richard's cause. His delay in arriving with the last contingent of the fleet may easily have drawn reproaches from the hot-tempered king, without being due to other than unavoidable causes. Again he was giving the most obvious advice under the circumstances, in persuading Richard not to throw himself with a mere handful of men into North Wales, immediately on hearing of Hereford's landing, but to return to Waterford, where he had left his fleet, and to take over his whole army (ib. xx. 309, 312). Creton is, moreover, inconsistent in admitting that Richard, after landing in South Wales, deserted his army, and in yet blaming Albemarle for subsequently dispersing it. In this version of the story Albemarle makes his way to Henry of Lancaster, through the heart of hostile Wales. But the English version that Richard left his steward, Sir Thomas Percy, to disband his army, and took Albemarle with him to Conway, seems more probable, though it contradicts the statement of an eye-witness (Annales Ricardi, pp. 248, 250).
Almost Henry's first act as king was to deprive Albemarle of the constableship, and the feeling in his first parliament against Albemarle as the supposed murderer of Gloucester was most intense; twenty gages were thrown down to him at once, and he had to thank the king for the mildness of his punishment. He was deprived of the dignity of duke and all the lands bestowed upon him in the last two years of the late reign (Rot. Parl. iii. 452). But in December he was again sitting in the privy council, and on 20 Feb. following Henry actually renewed Richard's grant (1398) of Oakham and the shrievalty of Rutland to him and his heirs male, although the reversal of Gloucester's attainder had revived the rights of his heirs to the reversion (Assoc. Archit. Soc. Reports, xiv. 109). This latter fact in itself throws the gravest doubt on the story of his complicity in the conspiracy of Christmas 1399, at least in the form to which Shakespeare has given such wide currency. The dramatic episode of York's accidental discovery of his son's treason, and the hasty ride to Windsor, by which Albemarle anticipated his father in disclosing the plot to the king, was taken by the Tudor historians from the contemporary but untrustworthy and prejudiced ‘Chronique de la Traïson et Mort du Roy Richart’ (p. 233). There is no mention at all of Albemarle's complicity in any English authority written near the time, and that in some later fifteenth-century chronicles may be derived from the French source (Chronicle, ed. Davies, p. 20; Fabyan, p. 568; Leland, Collectanea, ii. 484). It is possible that he received the confidence of the conspirators in order to betray them, which seems Creton's view; this and his presiding over the executions at Oxford would explain the bitter animus of the French authorities against him (Ramsay, i. 21). Richard's brother-in-law, Waleran, comte de St. Pol, had Albemarle's effigy in his coat-armour hung feet uppermost from a gibbet near the gate of Calais (Monstrelet, i. 68, ed. Douet d'Arcq). The strong terms in which the parliament of January 1401, in restoring him to the good name and estate impaired by the judgment of 1399, asserted his loyalty, coupling him with Somerset, in whose case there is no doubt, exclude the hypothesis of a serious complicity in the plot (Rot. Parl. iii. 460). Henry gave him a further proof of his restored confidence by appointing him on 28 Aug. 1401 to the important post of lieutenant of Aquitaine (Ord. Privy Council, i. 187). Some months later he was made governor of North Wales.
He was in Aquitaine when, on his father's death in August 1402, he became Duke of York. He soon returned, and on 29 Nov. 1403 received the onerous position of lieutenant of South Wales for three years (Wylie, i. 244, 378). His Welsh command was an ungrateful one. He was kept so ill-provided with funds that he could not pay the garrisons, although he disposed of his plate for the purpose. In order to quiet his mutinous soldiers he was forced to beg a loan from the abbot of Glastonbury, and promised to pledge his Yorkshire estates, while the government still owed him large sums for his services in Aquitaine (ib. i. 456). His discontent proved too strong for his loyalty, for there seems little doubt that he was engaged in the abortive attempt of his sister, Lady le Despenser, to carry off their young kinsmen, the Mortimers, from Windsor in February 1405 [see Mortimer, Edmund de, 1391–1425]. Lady le Despenser was not a woman of the highest character, and the plot for Henry's assassination at the previous Christmas, of which she accused York, may be open to doubt, but he confessed some of the charges brought against him (Annales Henrici IV, p. 398; Fœdera, viii. 386). He was arrested and sent to Pevensey Castle for safe keeping, while his estates were seized into the hands of the crown. After he had been seventeen weeks in prison he vainly petitioned for release on account of his ‘disease and heaviness;’ it was presently rumoured that he was dead, but on 7 Oct. the king ordered him to be brought to him (at Kenilworth?), and on 26 Nov. he was present at Lambeth at the marriage of the Earl of Arundel (ib. viii. 387; Wylie, ii. 48). His sequestrated estates were restored to him, and on 22 Dec. he was again made a privy councillor.
In November 1406 York once more became constable of the Tower, and subscribed the agreement under which Aberystwith Castle was surrendered just a year later, shortly after the Prince of Wales had earnestly vindicated the duke's loyalty in parliament (Rot. Parl. iii. 611; Fœdera, viii. 497). In 1409 he received orders to remain on his estates in the Welsh marches and repress the rebels (ib. viii. 588). Three years later Henry granted him Oakham for life, and he served under the Duke of Clarence in his expedition to France; he remained in Aquitaine after the death of Henry IV, pushing his claims as a son of Isabella of Castille to the disputed throne of Arragon (Ramsay, i. 167). On his return Henry V, in the second year of his reign, appointed him justice of South Wales and warden of the east marches towards Scotland, and had the parliamentary declaration in his favour of 1401 renewed (Rot. Parl. iv. 17); but it was finally decided that his rights in the Rutland estates had lapsed at his father's death. In 1415 he accompanied Henry to France, and commanded the right wing at Agincourt, where he was one of the few of the victors who perished, ‘smouldered to death,’ if we may accept Leland's authority (Itinerary, i. 4–5), by much heat and thronging (Gesta Henrici V, pp. 47, 50, 58; Le Fèvre, pp. 59–60). His body was taken back to England, and interred in the choir of Fotheringhay church, under a flat marble slab, with his image in brass. On Henry's return there was a public funeral in London on 1 Dec. to York and the rest of the fallen. At the dissolution of the monasteries the Duke of Northumberland pulled down the choir and exposed the body of York; Elizabeth ordered its reinterment and the erection of the present monument.
In his will, made during the siege of Harfleur in August 1415, York describes himself as ‘de tous pecheurs le plus mechant et coupable,’ directs that in all masses and prayers to be made for him there should be included Richard II and Henry IV, and devises a legacy of 20l. to Thomas Pleistede, in memory of the kindness he had shown him when confined at Pevensey (Nichols, Royal Wills, p. 217; Dugdale, ii. 157).
York married Philippa, second daughter and coheiress of John, lord Mohun of Dunster, Somerset, who had already been twice married, first to Walter, lord Fitzwalter (d. 1386), and, secondly, to Sir John Golafre of Langley, Oxon. (d. 1396). Her claims on the Dunster estates had drawn York into litigation under Henry IV (Archæological Journal, xxxvii. 164). She survived her third husband, by whom she had no issue; but her remarriage with Sir Walter (or Robert) Fitzwalter, which has passed from Dugdale into so many accounts, is a confusion with her first marriage. She died in 1431, and was buried in Westminster Abbey (Complete Peerage, iii. 370, v. 322; Wylie, ii. 48). York was succeeded in the title and his great estates by his nephew, Richard, duke of York (1412–1460) [q. v.], son of his younger brother Richard, earl of Cambridge. Though Henry IV was the nominal founder of the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay church, York provided the endowment, and is designated co-founder in the charter granted by Henry on 18 Dec. 1411 (Dugdale, Monasticon, vi. 1411). It was founded for a master, twelve chaplains, eight clerks, and thirteen choristers. In consideration of the heavy expense it had entailed upon York, Henry V, before starting for France, empowered him to enfeoff Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and others, with a large part of his estates as security for a loan (ib. p. 1413). But the reconstruction of the church does not seem to have been begun until 1434.