York, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd duke of

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York, Richard Plantagenet, 3rd duke of (1411–60). The son of the earl of Cambridge, who had rebelled against Henry V in 1415, and the heir to the estates, titles, and claims of the earls of March. Because of his blood and claim to the throne (1447–53 he was heir presumptive) he was always kept at arm's length by the king and his court. He served twice (1436–7, 1440–5) with some distinction as the king's lieutenant in Normandy. Failure to be reappointed in 1445 led to a bitter feud with his successor Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset. After the loss of Normandy he endeavoured to force his way into office, espousing the cause of financial and administrative reform. He was rescued from political oblivion by the collapse of the king's health in 1453 and his appointment as protector of the realm. The recovery of the king in 1454 led to his renewed exclusion, and thereafter he was set on a course of armed opposition which led in 1460 to his laying claim to the throne. He was killed in battle at Wakefield two months after he had been officially recognized as Henry VI's heir and his head stuck on the walls of York with a paper crown on it. York harboured a justifiable grievance against the court, but he was not a particularly able or astute politician. It is also conceivable that Henry VI's suspicions of his motives were well founded and that he had long coveted the throne which his heir Edward IV seized three months after his death.

Anthony James Pollard

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Richard duke of York

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