How did Richard Neville become “Kingmaker”?

Richard Neville is known to history as “Kingmaker” as a result of his support for King Edward IV (York) and subsequent defection to King Henry IV (Lancaster) during the Wars of the Roses, and his marring his daughters into the Plantagenet family, both Lancaster and York.

Born in 1428, Richard Neville was the eldest son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montagu, 5th Countess of Salisbury, daughter and only child of Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury.

Richard “Kingmaker” Neville was, therefore, heir to the Earldom of Salisbury at birth. That Earldom in itself wasn’t sufficient to give him the power necessary to influence events in the way he subsequently did.

In 1434 aged 6 he was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl Warwick, by his second marriage to Isabel Despencer, great grand-daughter of Edward III.

The Neville and Beauchamp families had close connections1.

Fate played Richard “Kingmaker” Neville a very generous hand when Henry Beauchamp, 14th Earl Warwick, his sister Cecily’s husband and his wife’s brother, died aged 21 in 1446.

Two years in 1448 later Henry 14th Earl of Warwick’s daughter Anne 15th Countess Warwick died, aged five (there is no report of suspicious circumstances).

Anne Beauchamp, Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s wife, inherited the whole estate including the Earldom of Warwick and the Despencer inheritance2.

In June 1460 Richard Neville left Calais, landed at Sandwich (Kent), raised an army, took over London and captured King Henry VI at the Battle of Northampton, July 1460. He was now, literally, Kingmaker.

In 1462 (or before) Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s mother Alice Montagu died; became 6th Earl of Salisbury.

Richard “Kingmaker” Neville owed his power to two women: his wife (Warwick) and his mother (Salisbury).

Fate had not finished with Richard Neville. His marriage produced two daughters, no sons.

Isabel married King Edward IV’s younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, who was subsequently executed for treason.

Anne married, firstly, Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI, the Lancastrian heir, who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury and secondly, Richard III King England.

Of these marriages no issue survived to adulthood. Richard’s Neville’s line ended with his daughters.



1 Richard Beauchamp’s (13th Earl Warwick) only son and heir, Henry Beauchamp, 14th Earl Salisbury, married, in 1428, Richard Neville’s sister Cecily, in 1445.

1 Richard Beauchamp’s (13th Earl Warwick) daughter Elizabeth from his first marriage to Elizabeth Berkeley married George, 1st Baron Latimer, Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s uncle (his father’ brother).

2 The inheritance was challenged by Anne’s three half-sisters who were married to John “Old Talbot” Talbot, the great knight of the Hundred Years War, Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke Somerset and George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer. The rancour following the court’s decision to award to a full sister before half-sisters was a contributing factor to the Wars of the Roses.

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