7th January 1355. Lead up to the Wars of the Roses.

In an age when lack of deference was a dangerous trait, Thomas of Woodstock managed to secure the enmity of his nephew, Richard II.

Richard II at Westminster Abbey mid 1390s.

Richard II at Westminster Abbey mid 1390s. He presided over the Merciless Parliament Feb-June 1388. Pic Ref. below.

Thomas who ‘presumed too much’ and ‘checked him [Richard] too sharply’, was attainted (had his estates confiscated), arrested at his castle at Pleshy and despatched to Calais where he was mysteriously murdered in 1397.

It was Today in 1355 that Thomas of Woodstock was born at Woodstock Palace (Oxon), the youngest of thirteen children of Edward III.

He was the fifth of the boys to survive, becoming Earl of Buckingham in 1377 and created 1st Duke of Gloucester in 1385 by Richard II.

Thomas is not so well known as his older brothers, Edward the Black Prince or John of Gaunt, but his role in governance had far reaching affects on his nephew Richard II, and internal family feuding was to lead to the 15th century Wars of the Roses.

Thomas became one of the Lords Appellant who seized control of the government and at Radcot Bridge, near Oxford defeated Robert de Vere the King’s favourite in December 1387. It resulted in the Merciless Parliament 1388 which reduced Richard to a figurehead.(1)

However the King regained ground when he married, as his second wife, his child-bride Isabella of France, in 1396 giving him support from France, the base for his regaining power.

It was after ten year of waiting that Richard had his revenge: Woodstock’s life was soon to be forfeit, but not before a forged confession had been obtained from him.

Richard now had many enemies and was usurped and supposedly murdered by his cousin Henry Bolyngbroke who became Henry IV in 1401.(2)

Many of the dukedoms awarded by the King were attainted, and their possessors executed: two of whom were half-brothers of King Richard, John and Thomas Holland.

The Lancastrians (1399-1461) claimed the throne simply through being descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster the 3rd surviving son of Edward III.

However he was challenged by Richard Duke of York, who was descended from Edward’s 2nd and  4th surviving sons, Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund Langley 1st Duke of York.

The result was the factional struggle for most of  the 15th century, as the royal houses of York and Lancaster fought each other for the crown of England: the Wars of the Roses.

(1) Others were: Richard de Arundel, Thomas Beauchamp, Henry Bolyngbroke, Thomas Mowbray.

Note: The term Merciless Parliament was coined by Augustinian chronicler Henry Knighton.

(2) Henry Bolynbroke was son of John of Gaunt and therefore cousin of Richard II.

Ref: Pic Ref: Wikipedia.org/merciless_parliament.

Ref: Westminster Abbey.org/our-history/Thomas Woodstock. Also quote

Ref: Wikipedia.org/ thomas_of_Woodstock.

Ref: plantagenetdynasty.blogspot.co.uk murder-of-thomas-of-woodstock. Ref for quote.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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