As a reminder, for the next two posts, including this one, we’re going to be switching from a narrative to a timeline format. I’ll follow up with analysis as we dig into certain topics/events in subsequent posts.
Richard, who was in London for the opening of Parliament in January, leaves and returns north.
Edward IV issues new orders for the Prince of Wales’s household at Ludlow. Queen Elizabeth’s brother, Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers and the Bishop of Worcester are confirmed as Prince Edward’s guardians, and Queen Elizabeth’s son from her first marriage, Sir Richard Grey, is also given a role in his care.
Anthony Woodville arranges for his position as Deputy Constable of the Tower of London to be given to his nephew, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset (Queen Elizabeth’s other son from her first marriage). He asks his lawyer in London to send him written proof of his powers in Prince Edward’s household.
Edward IV and William, Lord Hastings go on a fishing trip. Edward soon falls ill.
On April 6, a false report of Edward’s death reaches the City of York.
On April 9, Edward dies at the Palace of Westminster.
There is one train of thought that Edward added a codicil to his will that named Richard regent (as opposed to Lord Protector) during Edward V’s minority. We’ll get into that issue later on.
On April 11, Edward V is proclaimed king in London and his coronation is set for May 4. Hastings writes to Richard informing him of Edward’s death and the goings-on in London. Later chroniclers report that his missive includes a warning that the Woodvilles are planning to seize control.
Tradition has it that Hastings was the first to write to Richard, two days after Edward’s death and that Queen Elizabeth pointedly did not. We don’t actually know if that’s true or not.
Edward V and his household learn of Edward IV’s death on April 14. Anthony Woodville is ordered by Council to escort the new king to London in time for his coronation.
On this same day, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, learns of Edward IV’s death.
Some time in the middle of April, Richard receives Hastings letter, and writes a series of letters of his own. One of them is to Council in which he warns that no action should be taken that’s contrary to Edward IV’s wishes. He wrote another to Anthony Woodville asking to meet him and Edward V on their way to London, so that they might enter the capital together. He wrote a third to Queen Elizabeth offering his condolences and swearing his loyalty to the new reign. He is believed to have wrote others to high-ranking councilors, including Buckingham and Hastings.
Between April 16-18, Edward IV’s funeral is conducted in London with his nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln acting as chief mourner.
On April 20, Richard left Middleham Castle with 300 men. Prior to this, in the City of York, Richard attended a funeral mass for his brother during which he swore public fealty to Edward V.
Edward V and his household, including Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey, don’t leave Ludlow for London until April 24.
Richard is due to meet up with Edward V and co. on April 29 in Northampton, but on the appointed day, Edward V and his party ride on ahead to Stony Stratford. Anthony Woodville goes with them, but then doubles back to Northampton to meet Richard. Richard and Buckingham both arrive in Northampton. The three men dine together that evening.
On the morning of April 30, Anthony Woodville is arrested by Richard and Buckingham. The two men then ride to Stony Stratford and arrest Richard Grey and Edward V’s comptroller, Sir Richard Haute. Richard takes custody of Edward V.
On this same day, Queen Elizabeth’s other brother, Edward Woodville, departs for the sea. Mancini later wrote that he did so with a good portion of the treasury, but in fact Woodville was directed to leave by Council to deal with a threat from France. The money he had was seized during his sojourn across the Channel.
On May 1, learning of what’s happened on the road and the arrest of her brother and son, Queen Elizabeth enters sanctuary in Westminster Abbey with her daughters, the Duke of York, and Dorset. She is also joined by her brother, Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury. Later chroniclers wrote that Elizabeth tried to raise an army to defend herself and only entered sanctuary when that gambit failed.
Thomas More would later claim that on this same day Thomas Rotherham, Archbishop of York gave Elizabeth the Great Seal in his capacity as Chancellor. No contemporary source claims this.
On May 2, Richard, Buckingham, and Edward V leave Northampton, while Anthony Woodville is sent to Sherriff Hutton and Richard Grey to Middleham.
At some point on the road to London, Richard, Buckingham, and Edward V write their signatures and mottos on a scrap of paper. Richard’s motto is “Loyalty Binds Me.”
On May 4, Richard, Edward V, and Buckingham enter London. The new king is taken to the Bishop’s Palace and Richard orders all the magnates and citizens to swear homage to him. Richard himself takes up his own residence at Crosby Place.
One chronicler, Mancini, wrote that in the procession into the city were four wagons emblazoned with the Woodville coat of arms and carrying weapons that Richard claimed were discovered as part of the Woodville’s failed coup. Mancini wrote that this was deceptive since the weapons had actually been gathered as part of the preparation for war with Scotland, but as Richard’s biographer Matthew Lewis notes, Mancini also believed that the rumored Woodville coup was legitimate.
On the same day that Richard entered London, George Neville dies. Richard’s ability to pass along his estates to his son was dependent on George Neville being alive and producing a son of his own. As such, as of May 4, Richard’s claim to his estates were for his lifetime only.
On May 10, Council meets with Richard at its head. He keeps the majority of Edward IV’s councilors, including Hastings, Rotherham, Bishop Stillington, and Lord Stanley. Edward V’s tutor, the Bishop of Rochester, is one addition, while Buckingham is another. It is Buckingham who suggests that Edward V be lodged in the Tower of London until his coronation*. A new coronation date is set for June 22, with Parliament to open on June 25. And finally, Richard is named Lord Protector, but his described authority is more akin to that of a regent, and he is also given authority of Edward V. We’ll dig into this more in a later post.
Mancini later wrote that during this same Council meeting Richard urged Council to convict Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey of treason, but they demurred. It’s worth noting that Mancini reported this as gossip.
On May 14, Richard appoints John Howard steward of the duchy of Lancaster. He also sends men out to sea to capture Edward Woodville and return him home – they fail in this endeavor.
On May 20, Richard appoints Hastings Master of the Mint.
On May 21, Richard names Buckingham Justiciar and Chamberlain of South Wales, Constable and Captain of Aberystwyth Castle, Constable of royal castles in Shropshire and Herefordshire, Steward of South Wales, and custodian of castles, manors, and towns in Wales and the Marches that formed the duchy of Lancaster.
On May 27, Richard bequeaths on his childhood friend, Francis Lovell, the Honour of Wallingford. Earlier in the month he was made Chief Butler.
Throughout all of this, Richard oversees the seizure of Woodville property.
On June 5, letters are sent to 50 men ordering them to prepare to be knighted at Edward V’s coronation. That same day, Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, arrives in London. In an overture of friendship, she sends a gift to John Howard’s wife, Margaret Chedworth.
On June 9, one of the Bishop of Lincoln’s servants writes a letter in which he notes that Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset has broken sanctuary and left his mother and sisters to flee for Brittany. Also in Brittany: Henry and Jasper Tudor, still in exile under Francis II’s protection since 1471.
On June 10, Richard writes a letter to the City of York asking that they send him men to help him defend himself against Queen Elizabeth, her family, and her followers. It’s unclear whether Richard learned of a new Woodville plot, or if one existed at all. It’s possible his alarm was linked to Dorset’s flight from England.
On June 13, a portion of Council meets at the Tower of London. Something happens during the meeting and Hastings is accused of treason, taken outside, and beheaded. Later writers conclude that this attack was pre-arranged with the complicity of Howard and Buckingham, but we’ll get into this more in a later post. Worth noting, Hastings’s execution wasn’t technically illegal.
Thomas Rotherham and John Morton are also arrested at the same Council meeting and placed in the custody of Buckingham and Richard’s adherent, James Tyrell. After the meeting, heralds are sent into London announcing what happened on the grounds that the three men were plotting against Richard.
On June 15, Jane Shore – Edward’s one-time mistress and of some association with Hastings and Richard Grey – does public penance through London.
On June 16, Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury visits Queen Elizabeth at Westminster with a request and/or order that she hand over custody of her youngest son, the Duke of York, so that he can join his brother in the Tower of London. The reasoning is that he will have a role in the coronation. However that meeting unfolded, the Archbishop leaves with the Duke of York.
York doesn’t go directly to the Tower, but in fact is first taken to the Palace of Westminster where he’s met by Richard and Buckingham.
That same day, Richard issues writs to postpone the coronation until November 9 and cancels the scheduled session of Parliament.
Somewhere in this window, Edward V’s attendants are dismissed, and the two ‘Princes’ are moved further inside the Tower of London, often believed to the White Tower. From this point onward, they are no longer seen by the public.
On June 22, a man named Dr. Ralph Shaa preaches a sermon that claims Edward V can’t inherit the throne on the grounds that he and his siblings are illegitimate. Shaa, likely one of many men preaching similar sermons through the capital, claims that Edward IV was already married when he privately married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. This first wife is named as Lady Eleanor Butler, a woman who very much existed and was the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury before her death in 1468.
Shortly before this, Richard receives a man named Edward Grey, Lord Lisle, who was married to Lady Eleanor Talbot, Lady Eleanor Butler’s niece. Also worth noting is the presence in Richard’s circle of William Catesby, who served as Hastings’s lawyer before his death. Catesby’s stepmother was Alice Talbot, one of Lady Eleanor Butler’s cousins. Shortly before her death, Lady Eleanor Butler gifted a land deed to her sister, and Catesby is listed as one of the witnesses.
On June 23, Buckingham addresses the city officials and leaders of London at Guildhall and reinforces the public sermon. At the same time, Anthony Woodville is told that he’s being moved to Pontefract Castle to be executed.
On June 24, Buckingham addresses London’s mayor and aldermen. Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey both arrive at Pontefract Castle.
On June 25, Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey are both executed. Buckingham addresses a group of citizens at Westminster and produces a petition that summarizes Richard’s claim to the throne. In his speech he claims Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous and their children are illegitimate.
On June 26, a delegation from the City of London visit Richard at Baynard’s Castle (owned by his mother, Cecily) and petition him to take the throne. Richard agrees and then goes to Westminster Hall where he sits – for the first time – on the throne.
On June 28, John Howard is made duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshall of England, and given half of the Mowbray estate that had belonged to the Duke of York since his marriage to Anne Mowbray.
On July 1, the northern troops Richard summoned arrive in London under the command of the Earl of Northumberland and the Earl of Westmoreland.
On July 4, Richard and Anne, now living in Westminster, leave for the Tower of London.
On July 5, they leave the Tower and ride back to Westminster to receive homage.
On July 6, Richard and Anne are crowned king and queen in Westminster Abbey. You can read more about the ceremony here.
On July 19, Richard makes his son, Prince Edward, the Lieutenant of Ireland.
On July 21, King Louis XI of France writes a letter of congratulations to Richard on his coronation.
A few days later, Richard and Anne began their summer/coronation progress through England. On July 23, Richard issues a pardon for Hastings’s treason, which allows his widow, Katherine Neville, to keep his estate.
On July 29, Richard and Anne visit Minster Lovell, the home of Francis Lovell. Richard writes a letter to his Chancellor, John Russell, indicating that there’s been unrest in London that prompted the arrest of several men.
Over the course of July, Richard continues to enrich and empower the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk (John Howard). On July 31, Richard and Buckingham meet in Gloucester.
From August 8-15, Richard and Anne were back at Warwick Castle in the north.
On August 16, Richard requests an oath of allegiance from the Earl of Desmond in Ireland. In his letter he alludes to them sharing a common enemy in Queen Elizabeth who was rumored to be responsible for the execution of Desmond’s father in 1468 and George’s in 1478. At least, that’s one reading of the very vague language. We’ll get into this later.
On August 18, Richard was in Leicester where he wrote to 71 knights and gentlemen, summoning them to meet him at Pontefract Castle on August 27. He writes an additional letter to Louis XI expressing friendship and requesting better security for English merchants operating in France.
Around this time, Richard receives word from Queen Isabella I of Castile, who writes that she is open to negotiating friendship with England, and hadn’t been previously because Edward IV snubbed her in favor of Elizabeth Woodville.
He receives another message from Duke Francis II of Brittany who reminds him that he holds Henry Tudor, and that Louis XI has been asking for possession of him since Edward IV’s death. He requests archers from Richard for the price of keeping Henry out of French hands.
On August 19, Prince Edward leaves Middleham Castle to join his parents at Pontefract Castle.
On August 24, Richard names Prince Edward the Prince of Wales.
On August 30, Louis XI dies at the age of 60. He is succeeded by his 13-year-old son, Charles VIII, while the government is run by his adult daughter, the Duchess of Bourbon, serving as Regent.
On the same day, Richard, Anne, and Prince Edward make their formal entry into the City of York.
On September 3, James Tyrell is in London on Richard’s orders to secure robes and wall hangings for Prince Edward.
On September 7, Richard and Anne watch a morality play in the City of York.
On September 8, Prince Edward is formally invested as the Prince of Wales in York.
On September 18, Richard makes Sheriff Hutton a royal residence and places within it two of his nephews, the adult Earl of Lincoln and the eight-year-old Earl of Warwick (George of Clarence’s son). We’ll return to this later.
On September 23, Richard seizes the possessions of Queen Elizabeth’s brother, Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury.
On September 24, Buckingham reportedly writes to Henry Tudor asking him to invade England on October 18. We’ll get into the “why” of Buckingham’s defection in a later post.
By October 2, Henry Tudor has received funding from Duke Francis II of Brittany to invade England.
On October 3, Henry Tudor sets sail from Brittany, but is delayed by storms.
On October 10, the City of Kent raises a rebellion prematurely, not waiting for the proper signal from Buckingham and/or Henry Tudor. At this point, Richard becomes aware of the scale of the threat against him.
On October 11, Richard travels to Lincoln and learns of Buckingham’s involvement in the plot.
On October 12, Richard sends a letter to his Chancellor, John Russell, requesting that he send him the Great Seal. In a postscript, he asks that Russell bring him the Seal in person.
On October 15, Buckingham is publicly denounced as a traitor.
On October 18, Buckingham attempts to meet his fellow conspirators in southwest England.
On October 19, Richard receives the Great Seal from Robert Bakwell, a clerk of Chancery, at Grantham.
On October 22, Richard issues a proclamation denouncing the rebellion and condemning Buckingham and Dorset, among others, and placing a bounty on their and Lionel Woodville’s heads.
Late in October, Buckingham is captured and taken to Salisbury. On the 31st, Richard joins him there.
On November 2, Buckingham is executed. On the same day, Henry Tudor arrives at Plymouth, but returns to Brittany when he learns of the rebellion’s collapse.
On November 25, Richard finally returns to London.
On December 9, Richard sends out writs summoning Parliament on January 23, 1484. Included in the summons is a request for his seven-year-old son, Prince Edward, to attend.
On December 25, Henry Tudor publicly promises to marry Edward IV’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth of York.