Warwick, Richard Neville, 1st earl of

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Warwick, Richard Neville, 1st earl of (1428–71), known as ‘the Kingmaker’. Warwick was the mightiest of overmighty subjects, who was instrumental in putting Edward IV on the throne in 1461, deposing him in 1470, and restoring Henry VI. So powerful was he in the early years of Edward IV that one Frenchman wittily remarked of England, ‘they have two rulers, Warwick and another, whose name I have forgotten’. Warwick owed his power to his vast estates, combining in his own hands no fewer than four earldoms. Neville resources enabled the Yorkists successfully to overthrow Henry VI in 1461. In the next four years Warwick proved indispensable to Edward IV. Lavishly rewarded and allowed to take virtual control of northern England, he resented loss of influence after 1465. He first withdrew from court (1467) and after two abortive rebellions (1469 and 1470) he resorted to the restoration of Henry VI. However, the restoration was short-lived and on Easter Sunday 1471 Warwick was defeated and killed by Edward IV at Barnet. Warwick has generally had a bad press as over-ambitious. But his inherited wealth inevitably made him a power in the land. He was an astute politician, instinctively knowing how to exploit popular feelings for his own advantage. He was an inept general, and this, finally, was his undoing.

Anthony James Pollard

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