Friday, 7 March 2008

Edward of York - the early years

Edward, destined to be the second Duke of York, was probably born in 1373. (As usual with medievals we don't know the exact date.) He's sometimes known to historians as Edward of Norwich, although there's absolutely no indication that he was born there or had any connection with it - I only mention this to avoid confusion.

Now I must admit - I like Edward. Despite the fact that he was one of the most double-dealing rogues in English history, a man who makes Thomas, Lord Stanley look like a model of consistency and loyal devotion. There's something about him - his sheer bloody cheek for one thing. Despite holding the medieval equivalent of the Guiness Book of Records title for number of times accused of treason without actually being executed he was never fazed. He just keeps popping up again, like one of those little plastic men that live in the bottom of a birdcage. There was no vat of crap, however deep, from which he could not emerge, grinning and smelling of roses.

He was knighted at the coronation of his cousin, Richard II, in 1377. Not bad going that, four years old and already a knight. In 1381 he was married to Beatriz of Portugal, and if his father had not made such a mess of the Portuguese expedition Edward might have become King of Portugal, because Beatriz was her father's heiress. Instead her father had second thoughts and married her to the son of his enemy, the King of Castile, and paid to send Edmund of Langley, his wife, son, and attendant unruly army back home. Collapse of England's Iberian policy - no wonder John of Gaunt was far from a happy bunny.

Back home Edward was created a Knight of the Garter in 1387 and in 1390 was made Earl of Rutland. At this point he is already becoming a close ally of his cousin the King, and by late 1391 he was Admiral of England - one of the 'big' offices of state. Much more was to come.

No comments: