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Edward of Lancaster

1453 - 1471

Also known as Edward of Westminster and Lancaster, and Edward Prince of Wales.

Born in 1453, over eight years after the wedding of his parents, Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, Edward entered the world as their much-needed male heir. He was to be his parents' only child and was therefore highly valued throughout his whole life.

The prince’s birth was plagued with rumours of illegitimacy. His mother’s favourites, Edmund Beaufort 1st Duke of Somerset and James Butler Earl of Wiltshire, were both suspected of having an affair with her and fathering Edward. King Henry, however, accepted Edward and he was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in 1454.

Henry's questionable mental health and the people’s hatred of his wife Margaret of Anjou contributed to the instability of his rule, and the war between Lancaster and York ensued.

When York was victorious at the Battle of Towton, Prince Edward was still only a child, though as he aged knowledge of his true position as rightful heir to the throne will have become more and more apparent.

Margaret inspired several revolts in the northernmost counties of England, but was eventually forced to sail to France, where she and Edward maintained a court in exile.

In 1467 the ambassador of the Duchy of Milan to the court of France wrote that Edward 'already talks of nothing but cutting off heads or making war, as if he had everything in his hands or was the god of battle or the peaceful occupant of that throne'.

In 1470 Prince Edward was married to the youngest daughter of Richard NevilleAnne. Their marriage ensured that Richard Neville, who had switched his support from the Yorkists to the Lancastrians, would not go back on his decision. However, the marriage was to be short lived as Prince Edward was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 by the Yorks. 

From The Red Queen

Queen Margaret, our precious Queen Margaret, in desperate exile in France, running out of money and lost without soldiers, agrees to an alliance with the snake Warwick, her old enemy, formerly our greatest adversary. Amazingly, she lets her precious son Edward, Prince of Wales, marry Warwick’s younger daughter Anne, and the two parents agree to invade England together, to give the young people a bloodbath for a honeymoon and put the Lancaster son and the Warwick girl on the throne of England.

From The Kingmaker’s Daughter

“She says! She says!” Does nobody else say anything but her? You speak of her all the time and yet you used to have nightmares about her when you were a little girl,’ Isabel reminds me. ‘You used to wake up screaming that the she-wolf was coming, you thought she hid in the chest at the end of our bed. You used to ask me to wrap you tight and hold you tight so that she couldn’t get you. Funny that you should end up hanging on her every word and betrothed to her son, and forgetting all about me.’

‘I don’t believe he wants to be married to me at all,’ I say desperately. She shrugs.

Nothing interests Isabel these days.

‘He probably doesn’t. He probably has to do as he is ordered: like all of us. Perhaps it will turn out better for you two than the rest of us.’

Sometimes he watches me when I dance with the ladies, but he does not admire me, there is nothing warm in his look. He watches me as if he would judge me, as if he would understand me. He looks at me as if I were a puzzle that he wants to translate. The queen’s ladies in waiting tell me that I am beautiful: a little queen in miniature. They praise the natural curl of my auburn hair, the blue of my eyes, my lithe girl’s figure and the rosy colour of my skin; but he never says anything to make me think that he admires me. Sometimes he comes riding with us. Then he rides alongside me and never speaks. He rides well, as well as Richard. I glance at him and think that he is handsome. I try to smile at him, I try to make conversation. I should be glad that my father has chosen a husband who is so near my age and looks so fine and princely on a horse. And he will be King of England; but his coldness is quite impenetrable.

Image: Edward, Prince of Wales by Silvester Harding, published 29 January 1793, National Portrait Gallery (NPG D23753)

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