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Warwick: Castle for a Kingmaker
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Warwick: Castle for a KingmakerThough never called “Kingmaker” in his lifetime, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1428-71) was, during the Wars of the Roses, the most important power-broker in England. A great-great-grandson of Edward III (and potential claimant to the throne), he gained vast wealth by marrying Anne Beauchamp, the richest heiress of the age.

The Nevilles had supported the Yorkist side since 1453 and, after his father’s death, Warwick helped Edward IV to the throne in 1461. But his friendship with Edward soured after the King married Elizabeth Woodville. Fretting at being sidelined by the Woodville clan, he skillfully secured French support and engineered a revolt (1469-70) that briefly won back the throne for the deposed Henry VI. Edward proved resilient, however, and a better general.

The two former allies clashed at Barnet in 1471 where Warwick (fighting on foot to stiffen his troops’ resolve) was cut off and killed during the Lancastrian rout. His daughter Anne married Edward’s brother Richard of Glaucester (later Richard III) the following year.

Able, rich and politically ingenious, Warwick was both admired and feared.
Only inferiority as a battlefield commander undermined him in the tangled struggles of the Wars of the Roses. Had victory at Barnet gone to Lancaster and not York, Warwick would have been lauded at Henry VI’s side – or perhaps taken the Crown himself.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is one of England’s most imposing medieval fortresses. A castle has stood on this sandstone bluff above the River Avon since 1068, but by the 1200s stone walls had replaced the original Norman motte-and-bailey wooden fortress. Later changes included the rebuilt gatehouse, with a barbican in front, and an unfinished tower house, planned in 1478 by Richard of Glaucester to house cannon. Domestic building went on during the reign of Henry VIII, but few changes have been made to the outside of the castle since 1800.

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle, once home of the Kingmaker, now houses a modern exhibition portraying the Wars of the Roses

Warwick: Castle for a Kingmaker

Badge of Warwick
The bear and ragged staff, emblem of the Earls of Warwick; in St Mary’s Church, Warwick

Warwick: Castle for a Kingmaker

Kingmaker no more
In this painting of the Battle of Barnet, 14 April 1471, Edward IV is shown symbolically besting Warwick, the most powerful man never to be king. Much of the fighting actually took place in dense fog.

Warwick: Castle for a Kingmaker

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