On this day in Tudor history, 28th November 1499, in the reign of King Henry VII, Edward Plantagenet, styled Earl of Warwick, was beheaded on Tower Hill.
Warwick was the son of George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III, so was a potential claimant to the throne. However, it was his involvement in a plot by pretender Perkin Warbeck that Warwick’s final undoing.
Find out more about his short life, imprisonment and end…
On this day in Tudor history, 28th November 1499, Edward Plantagenet, styled Earl of Warwick, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill.
Edward was born in February 1475 and was the eldest and only surviving son of George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and Richard III, and his wife Isabel, daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker. Edward IV stood as his godfather and proclaimed the infant Earl of Warwick.
His father, the Duke of Clarence, was attainted in 1478, and so Edward’s inheritance, the Warwick lands, were seized by the crown. In 1481, his wardship was granted to Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband.
Edward attended Richard III’s coronation in July 1483 and was knighted in September 1483 when Richard III’s son, Edward Middleham, became Prince of Wales. As Edward, Earl of Warwick, was a potential claimant to the throne, he was kept in custody at Sheriff Hutton, a property owned by Richard III. On Henry VII’s accession, he was moved to the Tower of London.
Chronicler Raphael Holinshed records that the earl “almost from his tender years” was confined “out of all company of men and sight of beasts in so much that he could not discern a goose from a capon” and that he was “a verie innocent”. Holinshed states that the pretender Perkin Warbeck, who was imprisoned in the Tower in 1498, “corrupted his keepers, by false persuasions and great promises” and that in 1499 they plotted to free Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick who did not “himself seek his own death and destruction. But yet by the drift and offence of another he was brought to his death and confusion.” According to Holinshed, Warwick, who wanted his freedom, assented and agreed to the plot. The plot was discovered and on 21st November 1499 Warwick was arraigned at Westminster before the Earl of Oxford, High Steward of England, where he was accused of conspiring to depose King Henry VII. He was condemned to death and executed by beheading on Tower Hill on 28th November 1499 (some sources say 29th November), five days after Perkin Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn.
Warwick may have been involved in Warbeck’s plot, but there is also another factor in his execution: the marriage match being negotiated between England and Spain. Raphael Holinshed states that Ferdinand II of Aragon, father of Catherine of Aragon, “would make no full conclusion of the matrimony to be had between Prince Arthur and the lady Katharine daughter to the said Ferdinando, nor send her into England as long as this earl lived. For he imagined that so long as any earl of Warwick lived, England should never be purged of civil war and privy sedition, so much was the name of Warwick in other regions had in fear and jealousy.”
Whatever the reason, Edward, Earl of Warwick, a potential claimant to the throne of England, was executed on this day in 1499 at the age of 24. He was survived by his sister, Margaret, who had married Sir Richard Pole in 1487. Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was herself executed by beheading at the Tower of London in 1541 after being attainted for treason, accused of aiding and abetting her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, who, in turn, was alleged to be planning to marry the King’s daughter, Mary, and to restore papal supremacy in England.