Tag Archives: Edward Courtenay

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

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On this day in 1509 – Edward Courtenay died

Edward Courtenay was born to Sir Hugh Courtenay and Margaret Carminow whose family were loyal to the Lancastrians and also the Tudors.

Edward Courtenay was one of Henry Tudor’s companions whilst he was in exile in France and he also fought alongside Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. During his time in France Courtenay acted as a courier between France and England in the 1480’s and sought patronage of Margaret Beaufort.

In 1471 at the Battle of Tewkesbury Edward’s cousin once removed, John Courtenay, 7th Earl of Devon was killed and the Earldom expired as John Courtenay had no children. With the Earldom was no longer bestowed on anyone the newly crowned King Henry VII created Edward the new Earl making him the 1st Earl of Devon on 26th October 1485. At King Henry’s coronation Edward was given the honour of carrying the second sword in the procession.

Courtenay married his distant cousin, Elizabeth Courtenay and they went on to have one son, William, whose son was beheaded in 1539 alongside Margaret Pole for allegedly plotting to place Reginald Pole upon the throne.

Edward had a fairly quiet life away from court. He fought at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 and led a retinue of 99 men in France. In 1494 Edward was inducted into the Knight of the Garter, a prestigious honour granted to few men.

Edward was an influential courtier and ruled much of Devon on behalf of the crown. The county remained loyal to the Tudors and gathered men from Devon and East Cornwall to try to stop the imposter Perkin Warbeck. Edward defended the city of Exeter from the rebels and although wounded the rebels eventually disbanded.

Edward made his will on the 27th May 1509 and it is believed that he died the following day on the 28th May. In his will he requested to be buried in Tiverton chapel next to his wife. Edward had left his son William in line for the Earldom but on the condition that William obtained the King’s pardon. William had been imprisoned since 1502 and was under attainder since 1504.

Edward Courtenay monument