Tag Archives: Edmund de la Pole

On this day in 1511 – William Courtenay died

William Courtenay was born in 1475 to Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon and his wife, Elizabeth. His father had fought alongside Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth and as such the family was well regarded by the new Tudor monarch.

William, like his father was a key supporter of King Henry VII and he was made a Knight Bachelor on 25th November 1487. A Knight Bachelor is the lowest rank of a man who has been knighted that in modern day is awarded for public service. William was awarded this title at the coronation of Elizabeth of York.

In 1495 William married Catherine of York, the sixth daughter of King Edward IV and sister to Queen Elizabeth. The couple went on to have children a son, Henry and it is argued as to whether they had one or two daughters both called Margaret. It is rumoured that the youngest Margaret died at a young age from choking on a fish bone.

William like his father fought on the battlefields to help secure Henry VII’s throne and was a Captain in the royal army. He took to the field with his father in 1497 at the Battle of Blackheath to defeat Perkin Warbeck and his army as he attempted to stake his claim to the throne by claiming to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of King Edward IV. The defeat of Warbeck at the hands of the Tudor army signalled the end to fighting in the Wars of the Roses.

After the death of his wife King Henry changed and he began to suspect his closest allies of many things. William Courtenay did not escape the king’s suspicious mind and in 1503 he found himself arrested on the accusation that he had been corresponding with Edmund De la Pole, Earl of Suffolk and one of the last survivors of the Yorkist factions. It appears that the basis for Henry’s suspicion is down to the fact that William and Edmund were related through William’s wife. Attainder quickly followed and William remained in the Tower of London until King Henry VII died and his son took the throne in 1509.

Newly released William was granted the honour of sword bearer at Henry VIII’s coronation. William was present at jousts and banquets that were thrown for the King and his wife, Katherine of Aragon

Henry had begun the process restore William as Earl of Devon, however it is unknown whether it was completed before William died on 9th June 1511 from pleurisy, William’s body lay in the King’s Court at Greenwich for three days before the King announced that his burial should be of a nobleman. As a result William was buried in Blackfriars, London.

Courtenay armsArms and heraldic badge on the walls of Exeter Cathedral

On this day in 1513 – Edmund de la Pole was buried

Edmund de la Pole was the son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York, younger sister of King Edward IV and older sister of King Richard III. The De La Pole’s were some of the last legitimate Plantagenet’s in England during the Tudor reign.

Edmund’s older brother, John, had been named heir apparent by King Richard III after the death of his own son making his the focus of the Yorkists and those loyal to the Plantagenet’s after the death of Richard at Bosworth in 1485.

John de la Pole swore allegiance to the new King Henry VII but in 1487 joined the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be the imprisoned Edward, Earl of Warwick and a claimant to the throne. John de la Pole fought and died at the Battle of Stoke which was considered the last battle of the Wars of the Roses.

With the death of John the focus moved to Edmund as the claimant of the throne for the Yorkists and in 1491 Edmund inherited his father’s title of Duke of Suffolk although two years later this was demoted to Earl.

In 1498 Edmund was indicted in the King’s Bench for allegedly killing a man in a fury. He received the King’s pardon but in summer 1499 Edmund fled to Calais but was persuaded to return to England and returned into the King’s favour. Edmund went on to witness the confirmation of the treaty for Prince Arthur’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

After a brief trip to Calais with the King, Edmund began hearing that the Holy Roman Emperor would be willing to help anyone that carried the blood of King Edward IV back to the throne so Edmund began to approach the Emperor and after six weeks received word that the Emperor would help him with up to five thousand men for three months. However, the Emperor would not be able to gather these men for his support so instead agreed to lend money to Edmund.

On 28th July 1502 Maximillian signed an agreement with the English that in return for £10,000 he would not aid any English rebels regardless of their rank and so Edmund was on his own. On 12th February 1503 with Edmund still staying within Maximillian’s borders, Maximillian was requested to take an oath to swear that he would observe the treaty that he signed and that Edmund would be expelled from his lands.

January 1504 saw an attainder passed against the de la Pole’s including Edmund. He eventually left Maximillian’s land during Easter by leaving his brother, Richard, behind as hostage. Edmund headed to Gelderland to the Duke of Saxony where instead of being greeted and supported he was imprisoned. The Duke of Saxony was believed to have received money from King Henry VII to secure Edmund but for some reason he was never handed over to England.

Philip, King of Castile, eventually gained possession of Edmund and in January 1506 Edmund sent his servants to communicate with Henry and to negotiate a way to leave Philip’s possession. During January Philip was travelling to Castile when he was blown off course and landed in England. He visited Henry at Windsor where they discussed the surrender of Edmund into Henry’s custody. In March 1506 Edmund was paraded through London and placed into the Tower.

King Henry had promised Philip that he would not kill or harm Edmund but instead keep him imprisoned for the remainder of his life. Henry VII kept his word and Edmund was still alive when Henry VIII took the throne. In 1513 King Henry VIII ordered Edmund’s execution and on 30th March 1513 he was taken from his cell in the Tower and beheaded.

Edmund was buried on 4th May 1513 in the Church of the Minories, Aldgate.

Edmund de la Pole coat of arms