All About History

Warwick the Kingmaker

Richard Neville (1428–1471) was born into a northern family of immense wealth and potent political influence. With vast northern estates, the Nevilles were reputedly able to put 10,000 troops into the field, and the future power base of Richard, an eldest son, was greatly enhanced through marriage to Anne Beauchamp: lands in the Midlands, southern England and South Wales came under his sway.

Few details of Neville’s early life survive, but he made a notable entry into public life when he formally took up the title of Earl of Warwick in 1449. Given his later, unremitting interventions in English politics, it is perhaps surprising that Warwick appears to have been largely uninterested in affairs of state at this early stage of his career: he had a seat on the king’s council but attended meetings rarely, if at all, during the early 1450s. Increasing animosity towards the Duke of Somerset, a passion shared both by Warwick’s father (the elder Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury) and Richard, Duke of York, galvanised his political ambitions.

The support of the Nevilles was crucial to York’s rise to influence and, while Warwick played only a minor role in York’s First Protectorate (March

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