Warwick the Kingmaker was a very important figure in the history of England during the Middle Ages. He helped set up King Edward IV and tried to replace him when they fell out but eventually paid the ultimate price. Warwick may be gone but his legacy lives on in the spooky and exciting places that he lived, fought and changed British history. Here are three of the most interesting and exciting places that Warring Warwick left his mark upon. From the battle field of Towton to two of Warwick’s strongholds in the North, we tell you where to find the truth about the man they called The Kingmaker.
Place: Terrible Towton, North Yorkshire, England
Dreadful Date: 29 March 1461
Frightful Fact: More than 28,000 people died fighting at Towton making it the largest and bloodiest battle to ever be fought on English soil.
The Battle of Towton marked the beginning of the end for Henry IV; disliked by both the people and the aristocracy for his loss of France and the control his wife had over him, Henry’s defeat at Towton resulted in him having to flee across the Yorkshire Moors where he is said to have been taken in by a local Lancastrian family, the Penningtons. Henry liked them so much he gave them his drinking vessel and said that whilst it remained at Muncaster Castle the Pennington family would thrive – which they still do today!
Whilst Henry scuttled away Warwick’s forces dominated the battlefield – it was down to him and his plucky uncle that Warwick was able to seize the day by using the high ground that the Yorkists had captured to rain down arrows on the unlucky Lancastrians. Bodies recovered by archaeologists from the battle field show how damaged the bodies were; some had large wounds in their heads where the arrows had shot in them!
Place: Murderous Middleham, North Yorkshire, England
Dreadful Date: August 1469
Frightful Fact: Not only did Warwick stay at Middleham but after Edward IV’s father, Richard of York, was murdered by the Lancastrians his two sons George and Richard lived in the castle as Warwick’s wards. Richard would go on to be known as Richard III, one of Britain’s most troubled monarchs. After Warwick was killed Richard inherited Middleham from Warwick’s daughter, whom he married. He lived there when he was in the North of England.
Middleham Castle was Warwick’s powerbase in the North of England. It entered his family decades before and was where Warwick spent a great deal of his childhood and adult life. However, after Warwick turned on his protégée Edward IV, Warwick had him imprisoned in Middleham in August 1469 and tried to run England from his castle in Edward’s name! However, Parliament wasn’t having any of it and forced Warwick to let Edward go.
Middleham is famed for its great hall, its prestigious and grand room was used for holding feasts and lavish banquets for important guests. Equally fascinating are Middleham’s dirty dungeons where many an enemy of Warring Warwick was forced to stay if they crossed his path. Dirty and rat infested, they would not have been a comfy place to be even if you were a King.
Place: Shivering Sheriff Hutton, North Yorkshire, England
Frightful Fact: When Richard III was waiting for his rival Henry Tudor to arrive in England he sent his niece, Elizabeth of York, to live in Sheriff Hutton. After Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, Elizabeth would go on to become Queen of England by marrying Henry VII.
Like Middleham, Sheriff Hutton entered the Neville family decades before Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick was born. Yet it was one of his key castles in the North and used by Warwick constantly to look out for any danger on his vast northern estates. With its great view of the surrounding area, like a castle built by the same builder Bolton Castle, it dominated the landscape.
After Warwick’s death at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, the castle fell into the hands of Richard III. Richard often stayed at Sheriff Hutton because of its proximity to York where Richard was a well-liked monarch, contrasting his portrayal as a ruthless tyrant in the south. Richard used it directly into the run up to the Battle of Bosworth Field and it would continue to be used by Richard’s successor Henry VII and his son Henry VIII. Henry VIII eventually gave it to his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, a boisterous youth who Henry wanted to make King of England if he had no other heir.
Sheriff Hutton is set against a magnificent landscape of wild Yorkshire scenery and though a ruin that cannot be directly accessed, it is beautiful to observe and see the effort that was put into building a castle truly fit for Kings. Even though you can’t actually go into the ruin, there is an exciting, marked footpath that takes you all around it. It is a walk worth doing as you can imagine yourself being an explorer.
Warring Warwick’s fascinating locations reveal a man who did not mind going to war, who fought for what he believed in and a man who ensured that he got what he wanted. Warwick was a man who represented the medieval belief in power through strength of property and arms and he showed it by making himself the one and only Kingmaker.
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