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Edward, Earl of Warwick

Edward (Plantagenet), Earl of Warwick, (1475-1499) was the son of George, Duke of Clarence, and a potential claimant to the throne during the reigns of both King Richard III of England (1483 - 1485) and his successor, Henry VII of England (1485 - 1509). He was born in February, 1475, at Warwick, the family home of his mother, Isabel Neville, elder daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. From his birth he inherited the title of Earl of Warwick through his mother, and, on her death in 1476, he also inherited the earldom of Salisbury. His potential claim to the throne following the deposition of his cousin, King Edward V of England in 1483, was overlooked because the attainder of his father also barred Warwick from the succession (although that could have been reversed by an act of Parliament).

After the death of King Richard's son Edward (1484), the 10-year-old Warwick was named heir to the throne, possibly thanks to the influence of the queen, his aunt Anne Neville, who had adopted him and his sister Margaret following his parents' deaths. However, as soon as Queen Anne died, Richard named his sister Elizabeth's son, the adult John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, his heir in place of Warwick. As the American historian Paul Murray Kendall put it (in 1955), "Warwick . . . appears to have been what in the present age would be called a retarded child." British historian Jeremy Potter mentioned (in 1983) some of the contemporary evidence upon which historians based that conclusion: "Warwick . . . may have been simple-minded: later he was said not to be able to tell a goose from a capon." Richard is believed to have named him his heir as a temporary measure only to please his dying queen, who survived her own son's death by less than a year.

After King Richard's death in 1485, Warwick was kept a prisoner by Henry VII because his claim, albeit tarnished, could become a threat to the new king -- particularly after the appearance of the pretender, Lambert Simnel, in 1487. Although, in 1490, he was confirmed in his title of Earl of Warwick despite his (father's) attainder, he remained in the Tower of London until the arrival of another pretender, Perkin Warbeck, in 1499. An unsuccessful escape attempt resulted in the execution for treason of both men.

Preceded by:
George Plantagenet
Earl of Warwick Followed by:
Preceded by:
Richard Neville
Earl of Salisbury Followed by:
Margaret Plantagenet