“Warwick used his power to raise and remove kings in a medieval game of thrones”
The Earl of Warwick (1428–71) was a decisive player in the late 15th-century conflict known as the Wars of the Roses (1455– 87). Fuelled by unparalleled personal wealth and the influence it generated at home and abroad, Warwick used his power to raise and remove kings in a medieval game of thrones that had far-reaching effects on the social and economic stability of England.
An adept politician, Warwick knew how to manipulate popular discontent to his advantage and that of the kings he served. But when he found himself marginalised and at odds with Edward IV, his volte-face in championing Henry VI’s hopeless cause set him and his Lancastrian conspirators on a collision course with disaster. Warwick’s ambitious plan to make his daughter queen by virtue of a hasty marriage to Henry’s son, Prince Edward, forced him into battle with a superior opponent and few allies.
The devastation wreaked on Warwick at Barnet allowed Edward IV to secure another victory 20 days later at the battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471), where Prince Edward was killed and Henry VI’s consort, Margaret of Anjou, was captured. Warwick’s bloody demise on the battlefield also sealed the fate of Henry VI, who was murdered in the Tower of London shortly after Tewkesbury to ensure that no further uprisings could be held in his name.
Sarah Peverley is professor of medieval literature at the University of Liverpool and a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker. To find out more about her work, visit sarahpeverley.com