Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales

Edward of Westminster (13 October 1453 – 4 May 1471), also known as Edward of Lancaster, was the only son of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou. He was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury, making him the only heir apparent to the English throne to die in battle.

Edward of Westminster
Prince of Wales
Edward of Westminster
An 18th-century engraving of Edward.
Born13 October 1453
Palace of Westminster, London, England
Died4 May 1471 (aged 17)
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
SpouseAnne Neville
FatherHenry VI of England
MotherMargaret of Anjou
ReligionRoman Catholic

Early life

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster, London, the only son of King Henry VI of England and his wife, Margaret of Anjou. At the time, there was strife between Henry's supporters and those of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, who had a claim to the throne and challenged the authority of Henry's officers of state. Henry was suffering from mental illness, and there were widespread rumours that the prince was the result of an affair between his mother and one of her loyal supporters. Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormonde, were both suspected of fathering Prince Edward;[1] however, there is no firm evidence to support the rumours, and Henry himself never doubted the boy's legitimacy and publicly acknowledged paternity. Edward was invested as Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle in 1454.

War over the English throne

In 1460, King Henry was captured by the supporters of the Duke of York at the Battle of Northampton and taken to London. The Duke of York was dissuaded from claiming the throne immediately but he induced Parliament to pass the Act of Accord, by which Henry was allowed to reign but Edward was disinherited, as York or his heirs would become king on Henry's death.

Queen Margaret and Edward had meanwhile fled through Cheshire. By Margaret's later account, she induced outlaws and pillagers to aid her by pledging them to recognise the seven-year-old Edward as rightful heir to the crown. They subsequently reached safety in Wales and journeyed to Scotland, where Margaret raised support, while the Duke of York's enemies gathered in the north of England.

After York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield, the large army which Margaret had gathered advanced south. They defeated the army of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, one of York's most prominent supporters, at the Second Battle of St Albans. Warwick brought the captive King Henry in the train of his army, and he was found abandoned on the battlefield. Two of Warwick's knights, William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville, and Sir Thomas Kyriell, who had agreed to remain with Henry and see that he came to no harm, were captured. The day after the battle, Margaret asked Edward what death the two knights should suffer. Edward readily replied that their heads should be cut off.[2]

Exile in France

Margaret hesitated to advance on London with her unruly army, and subsequently retreated. They were routed at the Battle of Towton a few weeks later. Margaret and Edward fled once again, to Scotland. For the next three years, 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. (Henry had once again been captured and was a prisoner in the Tower of London.)

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."[3]

After several years in exile, Margaret took the best opportunity that presented itself and allied herself with the renegade Earl of Warwick. King Louis XI of France wanted to start a war with Burgundy, allies of the Yorkist King Edward IV. He believed if he allied himself to restoring Lancastrian rule they would help him conquer Burgundy. As a compliment to his new allies Louis made young Edward godfather to his son Charles. Prince Edward was married to Anne Neville, Warwick's younger daughter, in December 1470, though there is some doubt as to whether the marriage was ever consummated.

Battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury

Warwick returned to England and deposed Edward IV, with the help of Edward IV's younger brother, the Duke of Clarence. Edward IV fled into exile to Burgundy with his youngest brother the Duke of Gloucester, while Warwick restored Henry VI to the throne.

Anne Neville portrait
Anne Neville, wife of Edward of Westminster and later of Richard III.

Edward and Margaret lingered behind in France until April 1471. However, Edward IV had already raised an army, returned to England, and reconciled with Clarence. On the same day Margaret and Edward landed in England (14 April), Edward IV defeated and killed Warwick at the Battle of Barnet. With little real hope of success, the inexperienced prince and his mother led the remnant of their forces to meet Edward IV in the Battle of Tewkesbury. They were defeated and Edward was killed.[4]

According to some accounts, shortly after the rout of the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury, a small contingent of men under the Duke of Clarence found the grieving prince near a grove, and immediately beheaded him on a makeshift block, despite his pleas. Paul Murray Kendall, a biographer of Richard III, accepts this version of events.[5]

Another account of Edward's death is given by three Tudor sources: The Grand Chronicle of London, Polydore Vergil, and Edward Hall. It was later dramatised by William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 3, Act V, scene v. Their story is that Edward was captured and brought before the victorious Edward IV and his brothers and followers. The king received the prince graciously, and asked him why he had taken up arms against him. The prince replied defiantly, "I came to recover my father's heritage." The king then struck the prince across his face with his gauntlet hand, and his brothers killed the prince with their swords.

However, none of these accounts appear in any of the contemporaneous sources, which all report that Edward died in battle.

Edward's body is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey. His widow, Anne Neville, married the Duke of Gloucester, who eventually succeeded as King Richard III in 1483.


The Latin memorial brass to Edward in Tewkesbury Abbey is set in the floor between the choir stalls, under the tower. It reads as follows:

This can be translated into English as follows:[6]

"Here lies Edward, Prince of Wales, cruelly slain whilst but a youth. Anno Domini 1471, May fourth. Alas, the savagery of men. Thou art the sole light of thy Mother, and the last hope of thy race."


Ancestors of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
16. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
8. Henry IV of England
17. Blanche of Lancaster
4. Henry V of England
18. Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford
9. Mary de Bohun
19. Joan FitzAlan
2. Henry VI of England
20. Charles V of France
10. Charles VI of France
21. Joanna of Bourbon
5. Catherine of Valois
22. Stephen III, Duke of Bavaria
11. Isabeau of Bavaria
23. Taddea Visconti
1. Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
24. Louis I, Duke of Anjou
12. Louis II of Naples
25. Marie of Blois
6. René I of Naples
26. John I of Aragon
13. Yolande of Aragon
27. Violant of Bar
3. Margaret of Anjou
28. John I, Duke of Lorraine
14. Charles II, Duke of Lorraine
29. Sophie of Württemberg
7. Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine
30. Rupert of Germany
15. Margaret of the Palatinate
31. Elisabeth of Nuremberg


  1. ^ Paul Murray Kendall, Richard The Third; page 32
  2. ^ Churchill, Winston (1956). A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: Vol1 The Birth of Britain. Cassell. p. 328. ISBN 0-304-29500-0.
  3. ^ R. A. Griffiths, 'Edward, prince of Wales (1453–1471)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870–72), entry for Tewkesbury
  5. ^ Paul Murray Kendall. Richard the Third (1956); pp. 118, 528–529 note
  6. ^ "www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk" Monumental inscriptions on gravestones and monuments in the Abbey


  • R. A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI (1981), especially the Epilogue. ISBN 0520043723
  • Alison Weir, Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses, London (1995) ISBN 0712666745

External links

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
Cadet branch of the House of Plantagenet
Born: 13 October 1453 Died: 4 May 1471
Title last held by
Henry of Monmouth
Prince of Wales
Disputed with Richard Duke of York (Yorkist), 31 October-30 December 1460

Title next held by
Edward (V)
Title last held by
Henry of Windsor
Duke of Cornwall
Disputed with Richard Duke of York (Yorkist), 31 October-30 December 1460


Year 1453 (MCDLIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. It is sometimes cited as the notional end of the Middle Ages by historians who define the medieval period as the time between the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and the fall of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire.


Year 1460 (MCDLX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


The 1460s decade ran from January 1, 1460, to December 31, 1469.


Year 1465 (MCDLXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 1471 (MCDLXXI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Anne of Gloucester

Anne of Gloucester, Countess of Stafford (30 April 1383 – 16 October 1438) was the eldest daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and Eleanor de Bohun.

Beatrice of England

Beatrice of England (25 June 1242 – 24 March 1275) was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.

Edward, Prince of Wales

Edward, Prince of Wales may refer to:

Edward II of England, Prince of Wales 1301–1307

Edward, the Black Prince, Prince of Wales 1343–1376

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales 1453–1471

Edward V of England, Prince of Wales 1471–1483

Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales 1483–1484

Edward VI of England, Prince of Wales 1537–1547

Edward VII, Prince of Wales 1841–1901

Edward VIII, Prince of Wales 1910–1936All but Edward II were also Duke of Cornwall. Both Edward VII and Edward VIII were also Duke of Rothesay.

Edward Plantagenet

Edward Plantagenet may refer to:

Edward I of England (1239-1307), popularly known as Longshanks, reigned from 1272 until his death

Edward II of England (1284-1327), reigned from 1307 until he was deposed in January 1327, and was murdered in September

Edward III of England (1312-1377), crowned at the age of 14, and one of the more successful English monarchs of the Middle Ages

Edward IV of England (1442-1483), reigned from 1461 to 1470, and again from 1471

Edward V of England (1470-1483), king for two months in 1483 until deposed and sent to the Tower

Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales (1473-1484), only son of King Richard III of England

Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York (c. 1373–1415), grandson of Edward III

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (1453-1471), son of King Henry VI

Edward, the Black Prince (1330-1376), son of Edward III, known during his lifetime as Edward of Woodstock

Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick (1475–1499), son of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, himself son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York

Edward of England

Edward of England may refer to:

Kings of the English or of England, thereafter, of the United Kingdom

Edward the Elder (c. 874–924), King of the English

Edward the Martyr (c. 962–978), King of the English

Edward the Confessor (c. 1003–1066), King of the English

Edward I of England (1239–1307), King of England

Edward II of England (1284–1327), King of England

Edward III of England (1312–1377), King of England

Edward IV of England (1442–1483), King of England

Edward V of England (1470–c. 1483), King of England, one of the Princes in the Tower

Edward VI of England (1537–1553), King of England

Edward VII of the United Kingdom (1841–1910), King of the United Kingdom

Edward VIII of the United Kingdom (1894–1972), King of the United Kingdom

Sons of kings

Edward the Exile (1016–1057), son of King Edmund Ironside

Edward, the Black Prince (1330–1376), son of King Edward III of England

Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (1453–1471), son of King Henry VI of England

Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales (1473–1484), son of King Richard III of England

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

Geoffrey II (Breton: Jafrez; Latin: Galfridus, Anglo-Norman: Geoffroy; 23 September 1158 – 19 August 1186) was Duke of Brittany and 3rd Earl of Richmond between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth of five sons of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.

George Ashby (poet)

George Ashby (c. 1390–1475) was an English civil servant and poet.

House of Lancaster

The House of Lancaster was the name of two cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The first house was created when Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named—for his second son Edmund Crouchback in 1267. Edmund had already been created Earl of Leicester in 1265 and was granted the lands and privileges of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, after de Montfort's death and attainder at the end of the Second Barons' War. When Edmund's son Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, inherited his father-in-law's estates and title of Earl of Lincoln he became at a stroke the most powerful nobleman in England, with lands throughout the kingdom and the ability to raise vast private armies to wield power at national and local levels. This brought him—and Henry, his younger brother—into conflict with their cousin Edward II of England, leading to Thomas's execution. Henry inherited Thomas's titles and he and his son, who was also called Henry, gave loyal service to Edward's son—Edward III of England.

The second house of Lancaster was descended from John of Gaunt, who married the heiress of the first house. Edward III married all his sons to wealthy English heiresses rather than following his predecessors' practice of finding continental political marriages for royal princes. Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, had no male heir so Edward married his son John to Henry's heiress daughter and John's third cousin Blanche of Lancaster. This gave John the vast wealth of the House of Lancaster. Their son Henry usurped the throne in 1399, creating one of the factions in the Wars of the Roses. There was an intermittent dynastic struggle between the descendants of Edward III. In these wars, the term Lancastrian became a reference to members of the family and their supporters. The family provided England with three kings: Henry IV, who ruled from 1399 to 1413, Henry V (1413–1422), and Henry VI (1422–1461 and 1470–1471).

The House became extinct in the male line upon the murder in the Tower of London of Henry VI, following the battlefield execution of his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, by supporters of the House of York in 1471. Lancastrian cognatic descent—from John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster's daughter Phillipa—continued in the royal houses of Spain and Portugal while the Lancastrian political cause was maintained by Henry Tudor—a relatively unknown scion of the Beauforts—eventually leading to the establishment of the House of Tudor. The Lancastrians left a legacy through the patronage of the arts—most notably in founding Eton College and King's College, Cambridge—but to historians' chagrin their propaganda, and that of their Tudor successors, means that it is Shakespeare's partly fictionalized history plays rather than medievalist scholarly research that has the greater influence on modern perceptions of the dynasty.

Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester

Isabel le Despenser, Countess of Worcester and Warwick, LG (26 July 1400 – 1439) was the posthumous daughter and eventually the sole heiress of Thomas le Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester (died 1399) by his wife, Constance of York, daughter of Edmund of Langley (son of King Edward III of England). She was born six months after her father had been beheaded for plotting against King Henry IV of England (1399–1413).

Margaret of Anjou

Margaret of Anjou (French: Marguerite; 23 March 1430 – 25 August 1482) was the Queen of England by marriage to King Henry VI from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471. Born in the Duchy of Lorraine into the House of Valois-Anjou, Margaret was the second eldest daughter of René, King of Naples, and Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine.

She was one of the principal figures in the series of dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses and at times personally led the Lancastrian faction. Owing to her husband's frequent bouts of insanity, Margaret ruled the kingdom in his place. It was she who called for a Great Council in May 1455 that excluded the Yorkist faction headed by Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, and this provided the spark that ignited a civil conflict that lasted for more than 30 years, decimated the old nobility of England, and caused the deaths of thousands of men, including her only son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

Margaret was taken prisoner by the victorious Yorkists after the Lancastrian defeat at Tewkesbury. In 1475, she was ransomed by her cousin, King Louis XI of France. She went to live in France as a poor relation of the French king, and she died there at the age of 52.

May 4

May 4 is the 124th day of the year (125th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 241 days remaining until the end of the year.

Sir Thomas Kyriell

Sir Thomas Kyriell (1396–1461) was an English soldier of the Hundred Years' War and the opening of the Wars of the Roses. He was executed after the Second Battle of St Albans.

Thomas de Ros, 9th Baron de Ros

Thomas de Ros or Roos, 9th Baron de Ros of Helmsley (9 September 1427 – 17 May 1464) was a follower of the House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses.

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