Instability in the reign of Richard III


Instability in the reign of Richard III

In the early months of his reign, Richard III set about establishing his government, rewarding loyal servants, and empowering his three greatest magnates: Buckingham, Norfolk and Northumberland making them his lieutenants in the North, Wales and East Anglia.

Coronation glorious occasion, with Buckingham and Norfolk standing either side of the King. Almost the entire peerage was present at Westminster Abbey.

Richard went on progress around England and in Pontefract Castle was reunited with his son, Edward, whom he formally invested Prince of Wales. Agreed a treaty of friendship with an envoy of Isabella of Castile. Travelled to York for a splendid investiture ceremony of Edward, Prince of Wales, in York Minster.

Began a controversial policy of planting Northern Nobles in the South eg: Scrope of Bolton which upset many Southern Nobles.

The Buckingham Rebellion, 1483

In 1483 a series of uprisings began which threatened Richards. Misleadingly known as the Buckingham Rebellion, even though events were planned, and had started before the Duke of Buckingham defected to the rebels.

On the face foo it Buckingham’s defection seemed unlikely. He had been rewarded from his role in the Usurpation. Richard had given him constableship of all castles and stewardship of all land in Shropshire and Herefordshire as soon as they were available. One possible explanation for his defection is the fact that Buckingham had developed an insatiable appetite for reward and was offended when denied it. Richard had also promised him half the earldom of Hereford, although the letters patent for this were never issued, suggesting the King changed his mind.

Why did Buckingham Rebel

·         Insatiable appetite for reward (see above)

·         The Crowland Chronciler reports Buckingham was sent word of the Princes demise from  Richard and was driven by personal conscience to avenge their deaths – although this seems unlikely.

·         Thought himself a ‘King-maker’? Some say he wanted to lead a rebellion that would put Henry Tudor on the throne and he would be rewarded by Tudor. It has also been suggested that it was his idea for Henry Tudor to marry Elizabeth of York.

·         Some argue, though it is improbable that Buckingham planned to depose Richard and become King himself – he had a weak claim to the throne as a descendent of Edward III.

What Happened?

·         Tudor was to set sail from Brittany, where he had been in exile, to England where he would be crowned if the rebellion was successful. Initially he planned to leave in early October, however he was forced to abandon these plans due to fierce autumn storms that prevented his crossing. He had to set sail later, and by the time he reached England, the rebellion was all but over.

·         Kentish Rebels rose prematurely. Dis-organised uprisings followed in Sussex and Surrey. Through Swift action of Richard’s loyal lieutenant in the south, The Duke of Norfolk, who happened to be in London during the rebellion put


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