Edward of Lancaster/of Westminster

Edward of Lancaster (1453-71) was the only child of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. He was disinherited by the Act of Accord in 1460 and grew up in exile with his mother after the Yorkist triumph. He was married to Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick, during Henry VI’s readeption, but died at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

There has been speculation that Edward was not the child of Henry VI although most scholars dismiss this. One of Richard III’s alleged crimes was murdering Edward of Westminster but contemporary sources indicate that he died on the battlefield and Richard was not implicated until much later.

At the time of his birth his father had suffered a mental collapse and was unable to respond to his arrival. Parliament confirmed Edward as Prince of Wales on 15 March 1454 as a prelude to allowing Richard Duke of York to become Protector ten days later.

Edward spent most of his life in his mother’s company. A council was appointed to administer his estates on 28 January 1457 and this was an important source of Margaret of Anjou’s authority. She used his livery to raise forces to defend Henry VI’s interests and issued letters in his name.

Edward was disinherited on 25 October 1460 by the Act of Accord that made Richard Duke of York Henry VI’s heir. Queen Margaret took him to Scotland. Here she negotiated an alliance with the Scottish regent, Mary of Gueldres, mother of James III. The negotiations included plans for Edward to marry James III’s sister, Mary.

The prince was reunited with his father, Henry VI, after the Second Battle of St Albans and Henry knighted him on the field, although he was still only six. Edward was afterwards required to pronounce sentence on two Yorkist captives, Sir Thomas Kyriell and Lord Bonville: they were to be executed.

The family returned to Scotland after the Yorkist victory at Towton and in 1462 he accompanied his mother to the Continent in her quest for further support. George Ashby, one of his mother’s household, wrote ‘On the active policy of a prince’, which he dedicated to Edward. Edward’s tutor was Sir John Fortescue, the author of many Lancastrian treatises.

At Angers in the summer of 1470 Edward was betrothed to Anne Neville, the younger of the Earl of Warwick’s two daughters and heiresses. This was part of the arrangement whereby Warwick promised to reinstate Henry VI. Margaret delayed the actual marriage until December, after Henry VI had been restored to the throne.

Prince Edward returned to England on 14 April 1471, the very day that Warwick was slain at Barnet. Edward sought to meet up with allies in Wales but by 3 May had only reached Tewkesbury where Edward IV’s forces caught up with him. The Battle of Tewkesbury the following day was a disaster for the Lancastrians. Stories of his fate differ: he may have been appealing to his brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence, or fleeing towards the town when he was cut down. He was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.

This beautiful collection of stories and treatises was given to Edward’s mother, probably to help with the education of her children, so it would have been familiar to Edward.

This is the text of the work Ashby dedicated to Edward.



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