Sunday, January 13, 2013

John de La Pole, Earl of Lincoln: A Possible Yorkist Heir

Today's post is about a Tudor character that I, though proudly Lancastrian, have found very interesting: John de la Pole (the earl of Lincoln) He was named Richard III's heir given many lands and titles under the rule of the White rose. (The white rose a symbol of the house of York). He is the son of Richard III's sister Elizabeth, and her husband. (Also named John de la Pole, son of the staunch Lancastrian duke of Suffolk. But what about Lincoln that makes him so interesting? Well,


He was born about 1462/4 was the eldest child of  Elizabeth Plantagenet and John de la Pole (Suffolk's son) so he was brought up around court and given a good education and was certainly made conscious of his royal blood. He had two brothers that probably shared in his education, Edmund and Richard. (One was executed by Henry VIII and the other, died of natural causes) When Richard III took over Lincoln becomes of much more importance, as of course, He was Richard's nephew.

Now this is a point I think is very important in understanding just who Richard III was. Lincoln was Richard's nephew, as Edward V. But why is it that he gave Lincoln so much wealth and ordered Edward murdered? The answer refers back to a post a made a few days ago, Richard thought himself the rightful heir to his father (Richard duke of York) and the Yorkist claim. He didn't not believe personally that Edward was fully his brother, (that is a product of an adulterous affair between his mother and a French archer) this he would be okay murdering Edward's son since they weren't of the true York line.

But back to Lincoln, Yes, it's true Richard III bestowed many titles upon Lincoln and (upon the death of his son Edward of Middleham) even made him his heir! He trusted Lincoln very much. And he had every right to, Lincoln was proving himself loyal to the Yorkist cause. He had also inherited some of the Yorkist charisma (that made Edward IV so popular ;) ) so he was certainly a popular figure around court. It seemed to Lincoln that everything was going well and he would have a long life of wealth, prosperity, and happiness ahead of him. He might even be king!

Only problem was... Well, Bosworth. (And we all know what happened there!) Now Lincoln lost everything and Henry Tudor was king of England, triumph for the Red rose! But Henry VII knew how close Lincoln had been to the throne and he too, was capable of ruling the country as King John II. So he wasn't just gonna let someone like that run amuck. Lincoln was brought to the new kings court and there, given a post on the council. Of course it was nothing like before but, at least it was something. Lincoln seemed pretty content with this new position but all the time he couldn't help thinking "it should be me up there on the throne!"

Now thinking like that can lead to all sorts of trouble. And it did when Lambert Simnel conspiracy broke out. Lincoln got involved, of course knowing that Simnel wasn't the earl of Warwick. And that was probably why he gave his support, If he followed this conspiracy, he could then get Tudor off the throne and put himself on there instead. The plan seemed foolproof! But then again, Lincoln had underestimated Henry VII.

The rebels fought against him at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 and Lincoln fought with them. But he was killed in battle. (He wasn't even 30 yet!) and when Simnel was captured (and mercifully given a position in the royal kitchen) the rebel cause was lost, victory for the Tudors!

I think part of the reason I find the earl of Lincoln so interesting is because he was very unlike other Yorkists and his family has a partial Lancastrian background. Also, he was at the court of Henry VII and, (if he hasn't been so darn ambitious!) could've been a great Tudor supporter, which would've been a most unusual case in the history of Yorkists!

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